Skip to main content

Full text of "Lives of fair and gallant ladies"

See other formats







otta OaM/cwt 


* jj 

'>. ' i v 

or Q @ op !, 

C/ott ana Ocuiatii 




**<&* d> 
eiu^ C/nc 

cJLonacn at w 


iflarguerite of Galois 

From an old engraving. 

c)a/it ana 






Jtonaon ana ^yCcvM Jjotlc 




v. 2 




. vii 


AGEOUS WOMEN ........ 3 





OTHER TO LOVE ........ 151 




NOTES ...... . 335 


|HE Mondragola of Machiavelli, which reflects 
Italian morals at the time of the Renaissance, is 
well known. Lafontaine has later made use of 
this motif in one of his humorous stories. In the 
fourth chapter Liguro arrays in battle order an officer, a 
valet and a doctor, for a humorous love expedition. Liguro 
says : "In the right corner we shall place Callimaque ; I shall 
place myself in the extreme left corner, and the doctor in the 
middle. He will be called St. Cuckold." 

An interlocutor: "Who is this Saint?" 

"The greatest Saint of France." 

This question and the answer given are delicious. Bran- 
tome might have made this witticism even in his time. Per- 
haps he merely did not write it down, for after all he could 
not make too extensive use of his favorite play with the 
word "cocu." 

"The cuckold, the greatest Saint of France"; this might 
have been the motto of the "Dames Galantes." Philarete 
Chasles would have denied this, of course. He always main- 
tained that Gaul was pure and chaste, and that if France was 
full of vice, it had merely been infected by neighboring 
peoples. But this worthy academician was well informed 
merely regarding Italian influence. He was extremely un- 
aware of the existence of the cuckold in the sixteenth century. 
He even asserts in the strongest terms (in his preface to the 
edition of 1834) that all of this had not been so serious; the 
courtiers had merely desired to be immoral in an elegant 
fashion. He even calls Brantome "un fanfaron de licence," 
a braggart of vice. Indeed he would feel unhappy if he 
could not reassure us: "Quand il se plonge dans les im- 


\'\'r/ir/*Yir/ii/ww^^ tafttawKS 



puretes, c'est, croyez-moi, pure fanfaronnade de vice." Who 
would not smile at this worthy academician who has remained 
so unfamiliar with the history of his kings? His "believe 
me" sounds very well. But the best is yet to come. The 
book of the "Dames Galantes" was by no means to be con- 
sidered merely a frivolous collection of scandalous anecdotes, 
but a "curious historical document." 

There will probably always be a difference of opinion re- 
garding Brantome's position in the history of civilization. 
It will probably be impossible to change the judgments of 
the ordinary superficial reader. But we do not wish to dis- 
pose of Brantome as simply as that. It is very easy for a 
Puritan to condemn him. But we must seek to form a fairer 
judgment. Now in order to overcome this difficulty, it is, of 
course, very tempting simply to proclaim his importance for 
the history of civilization and to put him on the market as 
such. This would not be wrong, but this method has been 
used altogether too freely, both properly and improperly. 
Besides, Brantome is too good to be labelled in this manner. 
He does not need it either, he is of sufficient historical impor- 
tance even without its being pointed out. The question now 
arises : From what point of view are we then to comprehend 
Brantome? We could answer, from the time in which he 
lived. But that, speaking in such general terms, is a common- 
place. It is not quite correct either. For in spite of the 
opinions of the educated we must clearly distinguish between 
Brantome as an author and Brantome as a man and we shall 
hear more of this bold anarchistic personality, who almost 
throws his chamberlain's key back at the king. This is an- 
other striking case where the author must by no means be 
identified with his book. These events might have passed 
through another person's mind; they would have remained 
the same nevertheless. For Brantome did not originate them, 
he merely chronicled them. Now it usually happens that 
things are attributed to an author of which he is entirely 
innocent (does not Society make an author pay for his con- 




fessions in book- form?). He is even charged with a crime 
when he merely reports such events. The responsibility which 
Brantome must bear for his writings is greatly to be limited. 
And if our educated old maids simply refuse to be reconciled 
with his share we need merely tell them that this share is 
completely neutralized by his own personal life. 

Brantome undoubtedly considered himself an historian. 
That was a pardonable error. There is a great difference of 
opinion regarding the historical value of his reports, the 
most general opinion being that Brantome's accuracy is in no 
way to be relied upon, and that he was more a chronicler and 
a writer of memoirs. To be sure, Brantome cannot prove the 
historical accuracy of every statement he makes. Who would 
be able to give an exact account of this kaleidoscope of details ? 
But the significance, the symbolic value is there. 

In order to substantiate this sharp distinction between the 
book of Fair and Gallant Ladies and the supposed character 
of its author, I must be permitted to describe France of the 
sixteenth century. Various essayists have said that this 
period had been quite tame and pure in morals, that Brantome 
had merely invented and exaggerated these stories. But when 
they began to cite examples, it became evident that their 
opinion was like a snake biting its own tail. Their examples 
proved the very opposite of their views. 

Brantome's book could only have been written at the time 
of the last of the Valois. These dissolute kings furnished 
material for his book. Very few of these exploits can be 
charged to his own account, and even these he relates in an 
impersonal manner. Most of them he either witnessed or they 
were related to him, largely by the kings themselves. No 
matter in what connection one may read the history of the sec- 
ond half of the sixteenth century, the dissolute, licentious and 
immoral Valois are always mentioned. The kings corrupted 
this period to such an extent that Brantome would have had 
to be a Heliogabalus in order to make his own contributions 




At the beginning of this period we meet with the influence 
of the Italian Renaissance. Through the crusades of Charles 
VIII., France came into close contact with it. These kings 
conducted long wars for the possession of Milan, Genoa, Siena 
and Naples. A dream of the South induced the French to 
cross the Alps, and every campaign was followed by a new 
flood of Italian culture. If at the beginning of the sixteenth 
century France was not yet the Capital of grand manners, 
it approached this condition with giant strides during the 
reign of Francis I. For now there was added an invasion 
of Spanish culture. Next to Rome, Madrid had the greatest 
influence upon Paris. Francis I., this chivalrous king (1515- 
1547), introduced a flourishing court life. He induced 
Italian artists such as Leonardo and Cellini to come to Blois 
and try to introduce the grand Spanish manners into his own 
court. For a time France still seemed to be an imitation of 
Italy, but a poor one. With the preponderance of the Span- 
ish influence the Etiquette of Society approached its perfec- 

Francis I. therefore brought knighthood into flower. He 
considered a nobleman the foremost representative of the 
people and prized chivalry more than anything else. The 
court surrendered itself to a life of gaiety and frivolity; even 
at this period the keeping of mistresses became almost an 
official institution. "I have heard of the king's wish," Bran- 
tome relates, "that the noblemen of his court should not be 
without a lady of their heart and if they did not do as he 
wished he considered them simpletons without taste. But he 
frequently asked the others the name of their mistresses and 
promised to help and to speak for them. Such was his kind- 
ness and intimacy." Francis I. is responsible for this saying: 
"A court without women is like a year without a spring, like 
a spring without roses." To be sure, there was also another 
side to this court life. There were serious financial troubles, 
corruption in administration and sale of offices. The Italian 
architects who constructed the magnificent buildings of Saint 




Germain, Chantilly, Chambord and Chenonceaux were by no 
means inexpensive. Great interest was also taken in literary 
things. A more refined French was developed at this period. 
In Blois a library, Chambre de Librarye, was established. 
All of the Valois had great talent in composing poetic epistles, 
songs and stories, not merely Marguerite of Navarre, the 
sister of Francis I., who following the example of her brother 
was a patroness of the arts. To be sure, mention is also made 
of the "terrifying immorality" in Pau, even though this may 
not have been so bad. Brantome is already connected with 
this court life in Pau. His grandmother, Louise of Daillon, 
Seneschal of Poitiers, was one of the most intimate ladies-in- 
waiting of the Queen of Navarre. His mother, Anne of 
Bourdeille, is even introduced in several stories of the Hepta- 
meron. She is called Ennasuite, and his father Francis of 
Bourdeille appears as Simontaut. Life in the Louvre be- 
came more and more lax. Francis I., this royal Don Juan, 
is even said to have been a rival of his son, without our know- 
ing, however, whether this refers to Catherine of Medici or 
to Diana of Poitiers. Another version of the story makes 
Henri II. a rival of his father for the favor of Diana of 
Poitiers. But the well known revenge of that deceived noble- 
man which caused the death of Francis I. was entirely unneces- 
sary. It is said that the king had been intentionally infected. 
He could not be healed and died of this disease. At any rate, 
his body was completely poisoned by venereal ulcers, when 
he died. This physical degeneration was a terrible heritage 
which he left to his son, Henri II. (1547-1550). 

The latter had in the meantime married Catherine of Medici. 
Italian depravities now crossed the Alps in even greater num- 
bers. She was followed by a large number of astrologers, 
dancers, singers, conjurors and musicians who were like a 
plague of locusts. She thus accelerated the cultural process, 
she steeped the court of Henri II. as well as that of his three 
sons in the spirit of Italy and Spain. (The numerous cita- 
tions of Brantome indicate the frequency and closeness of 




relations at this time between France and Spain, the classical 
country of chivalry.) But her greed for power was always 
greater than her sensual desires. Though of imposing ex- 
terior, she was not beautiful, rather robust, ardently devoted 
to hunting, and masculine also in the quantity of food she 
consumed. She talked extremely well and made use of her 
literary skill in her diplomatic correspondence, which is esti- 
mated at about 6,000 letters. She was not, however, spared 
the great humiliation of sharing the bed and board of her 
royal husband with Madame de Valentinois, Diana of Poitiers, 
the mistress of Henri II. In this difficult position with an 
ignorant and narrow-minded husband who was moreover 
completely dominated by his favorites, she maintained a very 
wise attitude. Catherine of Medici was, of course, an intrigu- 
ing woman who later tried to carry out her most secret pur- 
poses in the midst of her own celebrations. 

Henri II. had four sons and a daughter, who were born 
to him by Catherine of Medici after ten years of sterility. 
In them the tragic fate of the last of the Valois was fulfilled. 
One after the other mounts the throne which is devoid of 
any happiness. The last of them is consumed when he has 
barely reached it. The blood of the Valois would have died 
out completely but for its continuation in the Bourbons 
through Marguerite, the last of the Valois, who with her be- 
witching beauty infatuated men and as the first wife of Henri 
IV. filled the world with the reports of her scandalous life. 
There is tragedy in the fact that the book of Fair and Gallant 
Ladies was dedicated to Alen9on, the last and youngest of 
the Valois. Of these four sons each was more depraved than 
the other; they furnished the material for Brantome's story. 
The book of Fair and Gallant Ladies, therefore, also seals 
the end of the race. 

The line began with Francis II. He mounted the throne 
when he was a boy of sixteen. He was as weak mentally as 
he was physically. He died in 1560, less than a year later, 
"as a result of an ulcer in the head." Then Catherine of 





Medici was Regent for ten years. In 1571 the next son, 
Charles, was old enough to mount the throne. He was twenty- 
two years old, tall and thin, weak on his legs, with a stooping 
position and sickly pale complexion. Thus he was painted 
by Fra^ois Clouet, called Janet, a famous painting which 
is now in possession of the Duke of Aumale. While a young 
prince, he received the very best education. His teachers 
were Amyot and Henri Estienne, with whom he read Plotin, 
Plato, Virgil, Cicero, Tacitus, Polybius and Machiavelli. 
Amyot's translation of Plutarch's Lives delighted the entire 
court. "The princesses of the House of France," Bran tome 
relates, "together with their ladies-in-waiting and maids-of- 
honor, took the greatest pleasure in the sayings of the Greeks 
and Romans which have been preserved by sweet Plutarch." 
Thus literature came into its own even in this court life. But 
they did not merely do homage to the old classical literature, 
all of them were also versed in the art of the sonnet, and 
were able to rhyme graceful love songs as well as Ronsard. 
Charles IX. himself wrote poetry and translated the Odes of 
Horace into French. His effeminate nature, at one moment 
given to humiliating excesses and in the next consumed by 
pangs of conscience, was fond of graceful and frivolous poetry. 
But there was also some good in this movement. Whereas the 
French language had been officially designated in 1539 as the 
Language of Law, to be used also in lectures, Charles IX. 
now gave his consent in 1570 for the founding of a Society 
to develop and purify the language. But even in this respect 
the honest de Thou denounced "this depraved age" and spoke 
of "the poisoning of women by immoral songs." This worthy 
man himself wrote Latin, of course. A time of disorder was 
now approaching, the revolts of the Huguenots were sweep- 
ing through France. But these very disorders and dangers 
encouraged a certain bold carelessness and recklessness. 
Murder was slinking through the streets. It was the year of 
St. Bartholomew's Eve. The Duke of Anjou himself relates 
that he feared to be stabbed by his own brother king, Charles 





IX., and later when he himself mounted the throne his brother 
Alcnc;on was in conspiracy against him. The Mignons and 
the Rodomonts, the coxcombs and braggarts, were increasing 
at this depraved court. Soon it was able seriously to compete 
with Madrid and Naples. Indeed the people down there now 
began to look up to France as the centre of fashion. Bran- 
tome was the first to recognize this and he was glad of it. 
Indeed he even encouraged it. Even at that time the French- 
man wished to be superior to all other people. 

The king was completely broken by the results of St. 
Bartholomew's Eve. His mind wandered back and forth. 
He became gloomy and vehement, had terrible hallucinations, 
and heard the spirits of the dead in the air. By superhuman 
exertions he tried to drown his conscience and procure sleep. 
He was constantly hunting, remaining in the saddle contin- 
uously from twelve to fourteen hours and often three days 
in succession. When he did not hunt he fenced or played ball 
or stood for three to four hours at the blacksmith's anvil 
swinging an enormous hammer. Finally, consumption forced 
him to stay in bed. But even now he passed his time by writ- 
ing about his favorite occupation, he was composing the Livre 
du Roy Charles, a dissertation on natural history and the deer 
hunt. When he reached the twenty-ninth chapter death over- 
took him. This fragment deserves praise, it was well thought 
out and not badly written. 

It is always unpleasant to say of a king that he had more 
talent to be an author than a king. It is unfortunate but true 
that the Valois were a literary race. But France itself in 
1577 was in a sorry state. Everywhere there were ruins of 
destroyed villages and castles. There were enormous stretches 
of uncultivated land and cattle-raising was greatly diminished. 
There were many loafing vagabonds accustomed to war and 
robbery who were a danger to the traveller and the farmer. 
Every province, every city, almost every house was divided 
against itself. 

Francis of Alen9on, the fourth of these brothers, who felt 





himself coming of age, the last of the Valois, had already 
begun his agitation. Charles IX. despised him and suspected 
his secret intrigues. His other brother, Henri, had to watch 
his every step in order to feel secure. 

Henri III. (1574-1689), formerly Henri of Anjou, was 
barely twenty-five years old when his strength was exhausted. 
But his greed of power which had already made him king of 
the Polish throne was still undiminished. He was the most 
elegant, the most graceful and the most tasteful of the Valois. 
It was therefore only to be expected that he would introduce 
new forms of stricter etiquette. D'Aubigne relates that he 
was a good judge of the arts, and that he was "one of the 
most eloquent men of his age." He was always on the 
search for poetry to gratify his erotic impulses. A life of 
revelry and pleasure now began in the palace. Immorality 
is the mildest reproach of his contemporary chroniclers. Al- 
though well educated and a friend of the Sciences, of Poetry 
and the Arts, as well as gifted by nature with a good mind, he 
was nevertheless very frivolous, indifferent, physically and 
mentally indolent. He almost despised hunting as much as 
the conscientious discharge of government affairs. He greatly 
preferred to be in the society of women, himself dressed in 
a feminine fashion, with two or three rings in each ear. He 
usually knew what was right and proper, but his desires, con- 
veniences and other secondary matters prevented him from 
doing it. He discharged all the more serious and efficient 
men and surrounded himself with insignificant coxcombs, the 
so-called Mignons, with whom he dallied and adorned him- 
self, and to whom he surrendered the government of the state. 
These conceited young men, who were without any redeeming 
merit, simply led a gay life at the court. In his History of 
France (I, 265), Ranke relates: "He surrounded himself 
with young people of pleasing appearance who tried to outdo 
him in cleanliness of dress and neatness of appearance. To 
be a favorite, a Mignon, was not a question of momentary ap- 
proval but a kind of permanent position." Assassinations 




were daily occurrences. D'Aubigne severely criticized the 
terrifying conditions in the court and public life in general. 
A chronicler says: "At that time anything was permitted 
except to say and do what was right and proper." This friv- 
olous, scandalous court consumed enormous sums of money. 
Such a miserable wretch as Henri III. required for his per- 
sonal pleasures an annual sum of 1,000,000 gold thalers, 
which is equivalent to about $10,000,000 in present values, 
and yet the entire state had to get along with 6,000,000 
thalers. For this was all that could be squeezed out of the 
country. Ranke says (page 269) : "In a diary of this pe- 
riod, the violent means of obtaining money and the squander- 
ing of the same by the favorites are related side by side, and 
it shows the disagreeable impression that these things made." 
Then there was also the contrast between his religious and 
his worldly life. At one time he would steep his feelings in 
orgies, then again he would parade them in processions. He 
was entirely capable of suddenly changing the gayest raiment 
for sackcloth and ashes. He would take off his jewel-covered 
belt and put on another covered with skulls. And in order 
that Satan might not be lacking, the criminal court ("chambre 
ardente") which was established at Blois had plenty of work 
to do during his reign. It was also evident that he would 
never have any children with his sickly wife. 

This same Henry III. while still Duke of Orleans tried to 
gain the favor of Brantome, who was then twenty-four years 
old, and when he entered upon his reign appointed him his 
chamberlain. This appointment took place in 1574. At the 
same time, however, Francis of Alen9on sought his favor. 
Subsequently Brantome entered into very intimate relations 
with him. 

Alenon is described to us as being small though well built 
but with coarse, crude features, with the temper and irritability 
of a woman and even greater cowardliness, likewise unreliable, 
ambitious and greedy. He was a very vain, frivolous person 
without political or religious convictions. From his youth 



up he was weak and sickly. His brother Henri despised and 
hated him and kept him a barely concealed prisoner as long 
as he could. Then Alen9on revolted, gathered armies, founded 
a new Ultra-Royal party and moved on Paris. He even 
wished at one time to have his mother removed from the 
court, who was still carrying on her intrigues throughout the 
entire kingdom. They were obliged to negotiate with him 
and he succeeded in extorting an indemnity which was almost 
equal to a royal authority. He received five duchies and four 
earldoms and his court had the power of passing death sen- 
tences. He had a guard and a corps of pages in expensive 
liveries and conducted a brilliant court. We must try and 
picture him as Ranke describes him, "small and stocky, of an 
obstinate bearing, bushy black hair over his ugly pock-marked 
face, which, however, was brightened by a fiery eye." 

The book of Fair and Gallant Ladies is dedicated to Alen- 
$on, but he did not see it any more. Brantome, however, 
must have begun it while he was still living. Alen9on died 
in 1584 at the age of thirty-one. 

Five years later Henri III. was stabbed by Jacques Clement. 
Thus the race of Henri III., which was apparently so fruitful, 
had withered in his sons. The remaining sister, who was 
inferior according to the Salic Law, was also extremely im- 

Her husband, Henry IV., entered a country that was com- 
pletely exhausted. The state debt at the time he entered 
upon his reign clearly showed the spirit of the previous gov- 
ernments. In 1560 the state debt was 43,000,000 livres. 
At the end of the century it had risen to 300,000,000. The 
Valois sold titles and dignities to the rich, squeezed them 
besides and were finally capable of mortgaging anything 
they could lay their hands upon. In 1595 Henri IV. remarked 
in Blois that "the majority of the farms and almost all the 
villages were uninhabited and empty." This mounting of the 
state debt clearly indicates the extent of the depravity of the 
court. During the reign of Charles IX. and Henri III., that 





is between 1570-1590, the dissoluteness reached its height 
and this made it possible for Brantome to collect such a 
large number of stories and anecdotes. Catherine of Medici, 
who outlived her race by a year and whose influence continued 
during this entire period, does not seem to have been a 
saint herself. But the last three of the Valois were the 
worst, the most frivolous and lascivious of them all. It was 
during their reign that the rule of mistresses was at its height 
in the Louvre and the royal castles which furnished Brantome 
with his inexhaustible material. Such were the Valois. 

This is the background of Brantome's life. We should 
like to know more about him. He has written about many 
generals and important women of his age, but there are only 
fragments regarding himself. 

The family Bourdeille is one of the most important in Peri- 
gord. Like other old races they sought to trace their ances- 
tors back into the times of Gaul and Rome. Charlemagne is 
said to have founded the Abbey Brantome. 

Brantome's father was the "first page of the royal litter." 
His son speaks of him as "un homme scabreaux, haut a la 
main et mauvais garcon." His mother, a born Chataigneraie, 
was lady-in-waiting of the Queen of Navarre. Pierre was 
probably also born in Navarre, but nothing is known as to the 
exact day of birth. Former biographers simply copied, one 
from the other, that he had died in 1614 at the age of eighty- 
seven. This would make 1528 the year of his birth. But now 
it is well known that Brantome spent the first years of his life 
in Navarre. Queen Marguerite died in 1549 and Brantome 
later writes of his sojourn at her court: "Moy estant petit 
garcon en sa court." Various methods of calculation seem 
to indicate that he was born in 1540. 

After the death of the Queen of Navarre this is also a 
matter of record Brantome went to Paris to take up his 
studies. From Paris, where he probably also was a com- 
panion of the enfants sanssouci, he went to Poitiers to con- 
tinue them. There in 1555, while still "a young student," 





he became acquainted with the beautiful Gotterelle, who is 
said to have had illicit relations with the Huguenot students. 
When he had completed his studies in 1556 he as the youngest 
son had to enter the church. He also received his share of 
the Abbey Brant ome from Henri II. as a reward for the hero- 
isms of his older brother. This young abbot was about six- 
teen years old. His signature and his title in family docu- 
ments in this period are very amusing: "ReVerend pere en 
Dieu abbe de Brantome." As an abbot he had no ecclesiasti- 
cal duties. He was his own pastor, could go to war, get mar- 
ried and do as he pleased. But nevertheless, this ecclesias- 
tical position did not suit him, and so he raised 500 gold 
thalers by selling wood from his forests with which he fitted 
himself out and then went off to Italy at the age of eighteen: 
"Portant L'coquebuse a meche et un beau fourniment de 
Milan, monte sur une haquenee de cent ecus et menant tou- 
jours six on sept gentils hommes, armes et monte s de meme, 
et bien en point sur bons courtands." 

He simply went off wherever there was war. In Piedmont 
he was shot in the face by an arrow which almost deprived 
him of his sight. There he was lying in Portofino in these 
marvellously beautiful foothills along the Genoese coast, and 
there he was strangely healed: "Une fort belle dame de la 
ma jettait dans les yeux du lait de ses beaux et blancs 
tetins" (Vies des Capitaines frangais, Ch. IV, 499). Then 
he went to Naples with Fransois de Guise. He himself de- 
scribes his reception by the Duke of Alcala. Here he also 
became acquainted with Madame de Guast, die Marquise del 

In 1 560 he left Italy and took up the administration of his 
estates which heretofore had been in the hands of his oldest 
brother, Andre. He joined the court in Amboise, where Fran- 
cis II. was conducting tournaments. At the same time the 
House of Guise took notice of him. In recollection of his 
uncle, La Chataigneraie, he was offered high protection at the 
court of Lorraine. From this time on he was at the court 




for over thirty years. At first he accompanied the Duke of 
Guise to his castle. Then after the death of Francis II. he 
accompanied his widow, Mary Stuart, to England in August, 
1561, and heard her final farewell to France. 

Although Brantome could not say enough in praise of the 
princes of Lorraine, the Guises, he did not go over to their 
side. Once at a later period when he was deeply embittered 
he allowed himself to be carried away by them. At the out- 
break of the civil wars, Brantome, of course, sided with the 
court. He also participated in the battle of Dreux. If there 
happened to be no war in France he would fight somewhere 
abroad. In 1561 he entered into closer relations with the 
court of the Duke of Orleans (later Henri III.). He became 
one of his noblemen and received 600 livres annually. (The 
receipts are still in existence.) In the same year he also 
took part in an expedition against the Berbers on the Coast 
of Morocco. We find him in Lisbon and in Madrid, where he 
was highly honored by the courts. When Sultan Soliman 
attacked Malta, Brantome also hurried thither. He returned 
by way of Naples and again presented himself to the Mar- 
quise de Guast. He thought that at last he had found his 
fortune but he felt constrained to continue his journey. He 
later denounces this episode in the most vehement terms. 
"Toujours trottant, traversant et vagabondant le monde." 
He was on his way to a new war in Hungary, but when he 
arrived in Venice he heard that it was not worth while. He 
returned by way of Milan and Turin, where he gave the im- 
pression of being greatly impoverished, but he was too proud 
to accept the purse of the Duchess of Savoy. 

In the meantime, the Huguenots had forced the king to 
make greater and greater concessions. Prince Conde and 
Admiral Coligny had the upper hand. The Huguenots, who 
heard that Brantome had reasons to be displeased with the 
king, tried to induce him to commit treason. But Brantome 
remained firm. He was given the title Captain ("Maitre de 
camp") of two companies even though he only had one but 



that is typical of the French. This company (enseigne) was 
under his command in the Battle of St. Venis (1567). In the 
following year, 1568, Charles IX. engaged him as a paid 
chamberlain. After the Battle of Jarnac in the following 
year he was seized by a fever, as a result of which he had 
to spend almost a year on his estates in order to recover. 

As soon as he was well again he wished to go off to war 
somewhere. He complained that it had been impossible for 
him to participate in the Battle of Lepanto. His friend, 
Strozzi, was now getting ready an expedition to Peru, which 
was to recompense him. But some misunderstanding caused 
his separation from Strozzi shortly afterwards. The prepa- 
rations for this expedition had, however, kept him away from 
St. Bartholomew's Eve, even though later he cursed them 
for personal reasons. 

Brantome was not religious. He cannot be considered a 
good judge in affairs of the Huguenots, for he was more 
than neutral in religious matters. He took an indifferent 
attitude towards the League. For as a secular priest, he had 
the very best reasons for being neither in favor of the League 
nor of the Huguenots. He speaks with great respect of 
Coligny. They frequently met and the admiral was always 
friendly. Brantome disapproved of the Massacre of St. 
Bartholomew's Eve and considered it entirely reprehensible 
and purposeless. This good warrior would have greatly pre- 
ferred to have seen these restless spirits engaged in a foreign 
war. He says of this bloody eve: "Mort malheurse lu puis- 
je bien appeller pour toute la France." To be sure, in the 
following year he was present at the Siege of La Rochelle, 
the White City. 

He was at the court when Charles IX. died. He accom- 
panied the corpse from Notre Dame to St. Denis and then 
entered the services of Henri III., who finally bestowed some 
favors upon the brothers Bourdeille and gave them the 
Bishopric of Perigneux. 

Then this restless soul was driven to approach Alengon, 




the youngest of the Valois. Bussy d'Amboise, the foremost 
nobleman of Alen9on, was his friend. Alen9on overwhelmed 
him with kindness and Brantome had to beg the angry king's 
pardon for his defection. 

But now an event occurred which almost drove Brantome 
into open rebellion. In 1582 his oldest brother died. The 
Abbey had belonged to both of them, but his brother had ap- 
pointed his own heir and the king was helpless against this. 
Brantome became very angry because he was not the heir. "Je 
ne suis qu'nn ver de terre," he writes. He now desired that 
the king should at least give his share of the Abbey to his 
nephew, but he was unsuccessful in this as well. Aubeterre 
became Seneschal and Governor of Perigord. This fault- 
finder could not control his anger: "Un matin, second jour 
de premier de 1'an . . . je luy en fis ma plainte; il m'en fit 
des excuses, bien qu'il fust mon roy. Je ne luy respondis 
autre chose sinon: Eh bien, Sire, vous ne m'avez donne se 
coup grand subject de vous faire jainais service comme j'ay 
faict." And so he ran off "fort despit." As he left the 
Louvre he noticed that the golden chamberlain's key was still 
hanging on his belt ; he tore it off and threw it into the Seine, 
so great was his anger. 

(When Aubeterre died in 1693 these posts were returned 
to the family Bourdeille.) 

(Other reasons which angered Brantome were less serious. 
Thus he could not bear Montaigne because the latter was of 
more recent nobility. He himself has shown that a man of 
the sword could very well take up the pen to pass the time. 
But he could not understand that the opposite might happen, 
and a sword given to a man of the pen. He was appointed a 
knight in the Order of St. Michael. But this did not satisfy 
his ambition very much when he looked around and saw that 
he had to share this distinction with many other men. He 
wished to have it limited to the nobility of the sword. Now 
his neighbor, Michel de Montaigne, received the same order. 
Brantome writes regarding this: "We have seen councillors 



leave the courts of justice, put down their robe and their four- 
cornered hat and take up a sword. Immediately the king 
bestowed the distinction upon them without their ever having 
gone to war. This has happened to Monsieur de Montaigne, 
who would have done better to remain at his trade and con- 
tinue to write his essays rather than exchange his pen for a 
sword which was not nearly so becoming.") 

Henri II. pardoned him his unmannerly behavior, but 
the king's rooms were closed to him. Then the Duke of Alen- 
9on wished to gain his allegiance and appointed him chamber- 
lain, thereby rewarding him for the intimate relationship 
which had existed between them ever since 1579. The duke 
was the leader of the dissatisfied and so this fault-finder 
was quite welcome to him. The book of Fair and Gallant 
Ladies is the direct result of the conversations at the Court 
of Alen5on, for we hear that Brantome soon wrote a few dis- 
courses which he dedicated to the prince. Brantome sold him- 
self to Alengon, which is almost to be taken literally. Then 
Alen9on died. Brantome's hopes were now completely 

What was he to do now? He was angry at the king. His 
boundless anger almost blinded him. Then the Guises ap- 
proached him and tried to induce him to swear allegiance to 
the enemies of the Valois. He was quite ready to do this and 
was at the point of committing high treason, for the King of 
Spain was behind the Guises, to whom he swore allegiance. 
But the outbreak of the war of the Huguenots, which resulted 
in a temporary depreciation of all estates, prevented him 
from carrying out his plans immediately. He could not sell 
anything, and without money life in Spain was impossible. 
But this new state of affairs gave him new energy and new 
life. He walked about with "sprightly vigor." He later 
described his feelings in the Capitaines frangais (Ch. IV, 
108) : "Possible que, si je fusse venu an bout de vies attantes 
et propositions, J'eusse faut plus de mal a ma patrie que 
jamais n'a faict renegat d'Alger a'la sienne, dont J'en fusse 





este mandict a perpetuite, possible de Dieu et des hommes." 

Then a horse that he was about to mount, shied, rose up and 
fell, rolling over him, so that all his ribs were broken. He 
was confined to his bed for almost four years; crippled and 
lame, without being able to move because of pain. 

When he was able to rise again the new order of things 
was in full progress, and when the iron hand of Henri IV., 
this cunning Navarrese and secret Huguenot, swept over 
France, the old court life also disappeared. Brantome was 
sickly and when the old Queen-mother Medici also died 
(1590) he buried himself completely in his abbey and took no 
interest henceforth in the events of his time. 

"Chaffoureur du papier" this might be the motto of his 
further life. Alas, writing was also such a resignation for 
Brantome, otherwise he would not have heaped such abuse 
upon it. But we must not imagine that his literary talent 
only developed after his unfortunate fall. Naturally he 
made quite different and more extensive use of it under these 
conditions than he otherwise would have done. Stirring up 
his old memories became more and more a means of master- 
ing the sterile life of that period. Literature is a product of 
impoverished life. It is the opium intoxication of memory, 
the conjuring up of bygone events. The death-shadowed 
eyes of Alenon had seen the first fragments of the book of 
Fair and Gallant Ladies. The Rondomontades Espagnoles 
must have been finished in 1590, for he offered them to the 
Queen of Navarre in the Castle of Usson in Auvergne. But 
beginning in 1590 there was a conscious exchange of the sword 
for the pen. He knew himself well. On his bed of pain the 
recollections of his varied life, his sufferings and the com- 
plaints of his thwarted ambitions became a longed-for dis- 
traction. He died July 16, 1614, and was buried in the 
Chapel of Richemond. 

His manuscripts had a strange fate. They were the prin- 
cipal care of his last will and testament. This in itself is a 
monument to his pride. "J'ai bien de 1'ambition," he writes, 





"je la veux encore monstrer apres ma mort." He had de- 
cided elements of greatness. The books in his library were 
to remain together, "set up in the castle and not to be scat- 
tered hither and thither or loaned to anyone." He wished to 
have the library preserved "in eternal commemoration of him- 
self." He was particularly interested in having his works 
published. He pretended to be a knight, and a nobleman, and 
yet he prized most highly these six volumes beautifully bound 
in blue, green and black velvet. His books, furthermore, were 
not to be published with a pseudonym, but his own name was 
to be openly printed on the title-page. He does not wish 
to be deprived of his labors and his fame. He gave the strict- 
est instructions to his heirs, but he was constantly forced to 
make additions to the will, because his executors died. He 
outlived too many of them and had made his will too early. 
The instructions regarding the printing of his books are very 
amusing: "Pour les faire imprimer mieux a ma fantaisie, 
. . . y'ordonne et veux, que Ton prenne sur ma lotate heredite 
1'argent qu 'en pouvra valoir la dite impression, et qui ne se 
pouvra certes monter a beaucoup, cur j'ay veu force impri- 
meurs . . . que s'ils ont mis une foys la veue, en donneront 
plusoost pour les imprimer qu'ils n'en voudraient recepvoir; 
car ils en impriment plusierus gratis que no valent pas les 
mieux. Je m'en puys bien vanter, mesmes que je les ay 
monstrez au moins en partie, a aueuns qui les ont voulu 
imprimer sans rien. . . . Mais je n'ay voulu qu ils fussent 
imprimez durant mon vivant. Surtout, je veux que la dicte 
impression en soit en belle et gross lettre, et grand colume, 
pour mieux paroistre. . . ." The typographical directions 
are quite modern. The execution of the will finally came into 
the hands of his niece, the Countess of Duretal, but on account 
of the offence that these books might give, she hesitated to 
carry out the last will of her uncle. Then his later heirs 
refused to have the books published, and locked the manu- 
scripts in the library. In the course of time, however, copies 
came into circulation, more and more copies were made, and 





one of them found its way into the office of a printer. A frag- 
ment was smuggled into the memoirs of Castelnau and wag 
printed with them in 1659. A better edition was now not far 
off. In 1665 and 1666 the first edition was published in 
Leyden by Jean Sambix. It comprised nine volumes in 
Elzevir. This very incomplete and unreliable edition was 
printed from a copy. Speculating printers now made a num- 
ber of reprints. A large number of manuscripts were now 
in circulation which were named according to the copyists. 
In the 17th and 18th centuries these books were invariably 
printed from copies. The edition of 1822, Oeuvres completes 
du seigneur de Brantome (Paris: Foucault), was the first 
to go back to the original manuscripts in possession of the 
family Bourdeille. Monmergue edited it. The manuscript 
of the book of Fair and Gallant Ladies was in the possession 
of the Baroness James Rothschild as late as 1903. After 
her death in the beginning of 1904, it came into possession 
of the National Library in Paris, which now has all of Bran- 
tome's manuscripts, and also plans to publish a critical revised 
edition of his collected works. 

The two books, Vies des Dames illustres and Vies des 
Dames galantes, were originally called by Brantome Premier 
and Second Livre des Dames. The new titles were invented 
by publishers speculating on the taste of the times, which from 
1660-1670 greatly preferred the words illustre and galante. 
The best subsequent edition of the Fair and Gallant Ladies is 
that printed by Abel Ledoux in Paris, 1834, which was edited 
by Philarete Chasles, who also supplied an introduction and 
notes. On the other hand, the critical edition of his collected 
works in 1822 still contains the best information regarding 
Brantome himself, and the remarks by the editor Monmergue 
are very excellent and far superior to the opinions which 
Philarete Chasles expresses, poetic as they may be. The 
crayon-drawings and copper-cuts of Famous and Gallant 
Ladies of the sixteenth century contained in Bouchot's book, 
Les femmes de Brantome, are very good; Bouchot's text, 





however, is merely a re-hash of Brantome himself. Neither 
must one over-estimate his reflections regarding the author of 
the Fair and Gallant Ladies. 

There is a great difference between the two Livres des 
Dames. What is an advantage in the one is a disadvantage in 
the other. Undoubtedly Brantome's genius is best expressed 
in the Dames Galantes. In this book the large number of 
symbolical anecdotes is the best method of narration. In the 
other they are more or less unimportant. Of course, Bran- 
tome could not escape the questionable historical methods of 
that period, but shares these faults with all of his contempo- 
raries. Besides, he was too good an author to be an excellent 
historian. The devil take the historical connection, as long 
as the story is a good one. 

The courtier Brantome sees all of history from the per- 
spective of boudoir-wit. Therefore his portraits of famous 
ladies of his age are mere mosaics of haphazard observations 
and opinions. He is a naive story-teller and therefore his 
ideas are seldom coherent. The value of his biographical 
portraits consists in the fact that they are influenced by his 
manner of writing, that they are the result of scandal and 
gossip which he heard in the Louvre, or of conversations in 
the saddle or in the trenches. He always preserves a respect- 
ful attitude and restrains himself from spicing things too 
freely. He did not allow himself to become a purveyor of 
malicious gossip, he took great care not to offend his high 
connections by unbridled speech, but his book lost interest on 
that account. 

If we wish to do justice to Brantome as the author of Fair 
and Gallant Ladies, we must try and picture his position in 
his age and in his society. It is not to be understood that 
he suddenly invented all of these stories during his long ill- 
ness. Let us try and follow the origin of these memoirs. At 
that time the most primitive conceptions of literary work in 
general prevailed. The actual writing down of the stories 
was the least. An author laboriously working out his stories 




was ridiculous. The idea and the actual creative work came 
long before the moment when the author sat down to write. 
None of Brantome's stories originated in his abbey, but in 
Madrid, in Naples, in Malta before La Rochelle, in the Louvre, 
in Blois and in Alenon. Writing down a story was a repro- 
duction of what had already been created, of what had been 
formed and reformed in frequent retelling and polished to 
perfection. The culture of the court was of great aid to 
him in his style, but his own style was nevertheless far 

For decades Brantome was a nobleman of his royal masters. 
He was constantly present at the court and participated in 
all of the major and minor events of its daily life, in quarrels 
and celebrations. He was a courtier. He was entirely at 
home in the halls and chambers of the Louvre, but even though 
he stopped to chat with the idle courtiers in the halls of the 
Louvre he never lowered himself to their level. He could be 
extremely boisterous, yet inwardly he was reserved and obser- 
vant. He was the very opposite of the noisy, impetuous Bussy- 
Rabutin. His intelligence and his wisdom made him a source 
of danger among the chamberlains. His was a dual nature, 
he was at the same time cynical and religious, disrespectful 
and enthusiastic, refined and brutal, at the same time abbot, 
warrior and courtier. Like Bernhard Palissy he ridiculed the 
astrologers, yet he was subject to the superstitions of his age. 
His temperament showed that his cradle had not been far from 
the banks of the Garonne, near the Gascogne. There was 
combined with his bold, optimistic, adventurous and restless 
spirit, with his chivalrous ideas and prejudices, a boundless 
vanity. A contemporary said of him: "He was as boastful 
as Cellini." Indeed he believed himself far superior to his 
class, he not only boasted of himself and his family, but also 
of his most insignificant deeds. He was irreconcilable in 
hate, and even admonished his heirs to revenge him. His 
royal masters he treated with respect tempered by irony. As 
a contemporary or Rabelais, Marot and Ronsard, he was an 




excellent speaker. If Rabelais had a Gallic mind then Bran- 
tome's was French. His cheerful and lively conversation 
was pleasing to all. He had a reputation of being a brilliant 
man. But he was also known as a discreet person. Alencon, 
who was a splendid story-teller himself and liked to hear 
love stories more than anything else, preferred conversation 
with him to anyone. His naivete and originality made friends 
for him everywhere. He had a brave and noble nature and 
was proud of being a Frenchman, he was the personified 
gentilhomme frangais. 

And thus his book originated. He must have taken up his 
pen quite spontaneously one day. Now from the great variety 
of his own experiences at court and in war, he poured forth 
a remarkable wealth of peculiar and interesting features 
which his memory had preserved. It is a book of the love- 
life during the reign of the Valois. These stories were not 
invented, but they were anecdotes and reports taken from 
real life. He was able to evade the danger of boredom. 
There is style even in his most impudent indiscretions. He 
only stopped at mere obscenities. On the other hand, he 
never hesitated to be cynical. As this age was fond of strong 
expressions, a puritanical language was out of the question. 
Not until the reign of Louis XIV. did the language become 
more polite. Neither was Brantome a Puritan, how could he 
have been? But he had character. He took pleasure in 
everything which was a manifestation of human energy. He 
loved passion and the power to do good or evil. (To be sure 
he also had some splendid things to say against immoderacy 
and vehemence of passions. So he was a fit companion of the 
Medici and the Valois.) 

There is not much composition in his books. His attention 
wandered from one story to the other. Boccaccio, the fore- 
most story-teller of this period, is more logical. An academi- 
cal critic says of Brantome : "He reports without choice what 
is good and bad, what is noble and abominable, the good not 
without warmth, but the bad with indestructible cheerful- 




ness." There is neither order nor method in his writing. He 
passes on abruptly, without motif, without transition. A 
courtier, unfamiliar with the rules of the school, he himself 
confesses (in the Rodomontades Espagnoles) : "Son pen 
de profession du scavoir et de 1'art de bien dire, et remet aux 
meux disans la belle disposition de paroles eloquentes." Be- 
cause of the variety his stories have unusual charm. In these 
numerous anecdotes the graceful indecencies of the ladies-in- 
waiting at the court of the Valois are described as if they had 
happened openly. His reports of the illicit relations are 
rendered in a charming style. Even though his sketches and 
pictures are modelled entirely on the life at the courts, never- 
theless he adds two personal elements: an amusing smile and 
a remarkable literary talent. The following may even have 
been the case. In the beginning Brantome may have taken 
an entirely neutral attitude towards the material at hand, 
but took no greater personal interest in them than he would, 
say, in memoirs. But when we can tell a story well, then we 
also take pleasure in our ability. We permeate the story with 
our own enjoyment, and in a flash it turns out to be pleasure 
in the thing itself. The light of our soul glows upon them 
and then the things themselves look like gold. Brantome 
rarely breaks through his reserve. He usually keeps his own 
opinions regarding these grand ladies and gentlemen in the 
background, he leaves it to the competent "grands discoureurs" 
to judge these things. To be sure, if one wished to get in- 
formation regarding the court of Henri II. and Catherine of 
Medici, one ought not exactly to read Brantome, who creates 
the impression as if the court were a model of a moral institu- 
tion. "Sa compaignie et sa court estait un vray paradis du 
monde et escole de toute honnestate, de virtu, I'ornement de la 
France," he once says somewhere in the Dames illv-stres (page 
64). On the other hand, L'Etorle in May, 1577, gives us a 
report of a banquet given by the Queen-mother in Chenon- 
ceaux: "Les femmes les plus belles et honnestes de la cour, 
estant a moitie nues et ayant, les cheveux epars comme espou- 




sees, fuient employees a faire le service." Other contempo- 
raries likewise report a great deal of the immorality prevail- 
ing at the court. Thus we have curious reports regarding 
the pregnancy of Limeuil, who had her birth-throes in the 
queen's wardrobe in Lyon (1564), the father being the Prince 
of Conde. Likewise, Johanna d'Albret warns her son, later 
Henri IV., against the corruption of the court. When she 
later visited him in Paris she was horrified at the immorality 
at the court of her daughter-in-law, later Queen Margot, who 
lived in the "most depraved and dissolute society." (Bran- 
tome pretended that he was a relative of hers, and pronounced 
a panegyric upon her in his Rodomontades which was 
answered in her memoirs dedicated to him.) He did not feel 
it his mission to be a Savonarola. To his great regret this 
"culture" came home to him in his own family. He had more 
and more cause to be dissatisfied with his youngest sister, 
Madeleine. The wicked life of this lady-in-waiting filled 
him with fury. He paid her her share and drove her from 
the house. 

Certain Puritans among the historians find fault with Bran- 
tome for having uncovered the "abominations" at the courts 
of the Valois. His vanity may have led him to make many 
modifications in the events, but most of these are probably 
due to his desire to be entertaining. In his dedication to the 
Rodomontades Espagnoles he addresses Queen Margot as 
follows: "Bien vous dirai-je, que ce que j'escrits est plein 
de verite; de ce que j'ay veu, je 1'asseure, di ce que j'ay seen 
et appris d'autray, si on m'a trompe je n'en puis mais si tiens- 
je pourtant beaucoup de choses de personnages et de livres 
tres-veritables et dignes de foy." Nevertheless, his method 
was very primitive. In his descriptions of personalities, he 
had a thread on which he could string up his recollections, so 
that there was at least some consistency. In the book of 
Fair and Gallant Ladies the individual fact is of less impor- 
tance and has more of symbolic value. They are pictures of 
the time composed of a confusing multitude of anecdotes. 




Perhaps the subject-matter required this bizarre method. 
The Heptameron of Marguerite of Navarre was altogether too 
precise. Brantome was a man of the sword and a courtier, 
but a courtier who occasionally liked to put his hand on his 
sword in between his witticisms. In this state of mind, he 
was an excellent story-teller, and his anecdotes and stories 
therefore also have the actuality and the vigorous composition 
of naively related stories. 

The book of Fair and Gallant Ladies still contains much of 
historical value. Almost all the old noble races are mentioned ; 
there is information regarding Navarre, Parma, Florence, 
Rome and Toulouse. The Huguenots likewise appear, and St. 
Bartholomew's Eve (1572), which was far back, still sheds 
its gloom over these pages. The trenches before La Rochelle 
play an important part; Brantome always fought against the 
Huguenots. Perhaps this was the reason why he was no 
longer in favor with the Bourbon Henri IV. However, one 
cannot charge him with animosity. Perhaps the frank and 
open methods of reforming had affected him. Without tak- 
ing interest in religious quarrels, he probably also hated the 
monks and priests. Thus one would be inclined to say to the 
Puritans who condemn Brantome: If one may speak of 
guilt and responsibility, then it is his age which must bear 
them. Brantome merely chronicled the morals of his times. 
The material was furnished to him, he merely wrote it down. 
He is no more responsible for his book, than an editor of a 
newspaper for the report of a raid or a bomb attack. Kanke 
once said regarding the times of Henri II.: "If one wishes 
to know the thoughts and opinions of France at that period, 
one must read Rabelais" (History of France, Ch. I, 133). 
Whoever wishes to become familiar with the age of Charles 
IX. and Henri III. must read Brantome. 


(Translated from the German.) 




G)ettlna cova iait ana oonouttuHC taaiea ao love wave 
ana oauant men, an3 

men coutaqeotui 


]T hath ever been the case that fair and hon- 
ourable ladies have loved brave and valiant 
men, albeit by natural bent they be cowardly 
and timid creatures. But such a virtue doth 
valour possess with them, as that they do grow altogether 
enamoured thereof. What else is this but to constrain 
their exact opposite to love them, and this spite of their 
own natural complexion? And for an instance of this 
truth, Venus, which in ancient days was the goddess of 
Beauty, and of all gentle and courteous bearing, being 
fain, there in the skies and at the Court of Jupiter, to 
choose her some fair and handsome lover and so make 
cuckold her worthy husband Vulcan, did set her choice 
on never a one of the pretty young gallants, those dap- 
per, curled darlings, whereof were so many to hand, but 
did select and fall deep in love with the god Mars, god 
of armies and warlike prowess, and this albeit he was 
all foul and a-sweat with the wars he had but just come 
from, and all besmirched with dust and as filthy as might 




be, more smacking of the soldier in the field than the gal- 
lant at Court. Nay! worse still, very oft mayhap all 
bloody, as returning from battle, he would so lie with her, 
without any sort of cleansing of himself or scenting of 
his person. 

Again, the fair and high-born Penthesilea, Queen of the 
Amazons, having learned of fame concerning the valour 
and prowess of the doughty Hector, and his wondrous 
feats of arms which he did before Troy against the 
Greeks, did at the mere report of all this grow so fondly 
enamoured of the hero, that being fain to have so valiant 
a knight for father of her children, her daughters to wit 
which should succeed to her kingdom, she did hie her 
forth to seek him at Troy. There beholding him, and 
contemplating and admiring his puissance, she did all ever 
she could to find favour with him, not less by the brave 
deeds of war she wrought than by her beauty, the which 
was exceeding rare. And never did Hector make sally 
upon his foes but she would be at his side, and was always 
as well to the front as Hector himself in the melee, wher- 
ever the fight was hottest. In such wise that 'tis said 
she did several times accomplish such deeds of daring and 
so stir the Trojan's wonder as that he would stop short 
as if astonished in the midst of the fiercest combats, and 
so withdraw somewhat on one side, the better to see and 
admire this most valiant Queen doing such gallant deeds. 

Thereafter, we leave the world to suppose what was 
the issue of their love, and if they did put the same in 
practise; and truly the result could not long be doubtful. 
But any way, their pleasure was to be of no great dura- 
tion for the Queen, the better to delight her lover, did 
so constantly rush forth to confront all hazards, that she 



was slain at last in one of the fiercest and fellest en- 
counters. Others however say she did never see Hector 
at all, but that he was dead before her arrival. So com- 
ing on the scene and learning his death, she did there- 
upon fall into so great grief and such sadness to have lost 
the goodly sight she had so fondly desired and had come 
from so far a land to seek, that she did start forth to meet 
a voluntary death in the bloodiest battles of the war; 
and so she died, having no further cause to live, now she 
had failed of beholding the gallant being she had chosen 
as best of all and had loved the most. x 

The like was done by Thalestris, another Queen of the 
Amazons, who did traverse a great country and cover I 
know not how many leagues for to visit Alexander the 
Great, and asking it of him as a favour, or as but a fair 
exchange of courtesy, did lie with him in order that she 
might have issue by him of so noble and generous a blood, 
having heard him so high rated of all men. This boon 
did Alexander very gladly grant her ; and verily he must 
needs have been sore spoiled and sick of women if he had 
done otherwise, for the said Queen was as beautiful as she 
was valiant. Quintus Curtius, Orosius and Justin do af- 
firm moreover that she did thus visit Alexander with 
three hundred ladies in her suite, all bearing arms, 
and all so fair apparelled and of such a beauteous 
grace as that naught could surpass the same. So 
attended, she did make her reverence before the King, 
who did welcome her with the highest marks of honour. 
And she did tarry thirteen days and thirteen nights with 
him, submitting herself in all ways to his good will and 
pleasure. At the same time she did frankly tell him how 
that if she had a daughter by him, she would guard her as 


. ...'.: . : .. . 1 . t . . . t . . . t 1 . . * . . * 4 . 


a most priceless treasure; but an if she had a son, that 
she would send him back to the King, by reason of the 
abhorrence she bear to the male sex, in the matter of hold- 
ing rule and exercising any command among them, in 
accordance with the laws introduced in their companies 
after they had slain their husbands. 

Herein need we have no doubt whatever but that the 
rest of the ladies and attendant dames did after a like 
manner, and had themselves covered by the different cap- 
tains and men of war of the said King Alexander. For 
they were bound in this matter to follow their mistress* 

So too the fair maiden Camilla, at once beautiful and 
noble-hearted, and one which did serve her mistress Diana 
right faithfully in the woodlands and forests on her hunt- 
ing parties, having heard the bruit of Turnus' valiance, 
and how he had to do with another valiant warrior, to wit 
Aeneas, which did press him sore, did choose her side. 
Then did she seek out her favourite and join him, but 
with three very honourable and fair ladies beside for her 
comrades, the which she had taken for her close friends 
and trusty confidantes, and for tribads too mayhap, and 
for mutual naughtiness. And so did she hold these same 
in honour and use them on all occasions, as Virgil doth 
describe in his ^Eneid. And they were called the one 
Armia, a virgin and a valiant maid, another Tullia, and 
the third Tarpeia, which was skilled to wield the pike and 
dart, and that in two divers fashions, be it understood, 
all three being daughters of Italy. 

Thus then did Camilla arrive with her beauteous little 
band (as they say "little and good") for to seek out 
Turnus, with whom she did perform sundry excellent feats 





of arms; and did sally forth so oft and join battle with 
the doughty Trojans that she was presently slain, to the 
very sore grief of Turnus, who did regard her most 
highly, as well for her beauty as for the good succour she 
brought. In such wise did these fair and courageous 
dames seek out brave and valiant heroes, succouring the 
same in their ways and encounters. 

What else was it did fill the breast of poor Dido with 
the flame of so ardent a love, what but the valiance she did 
feel to be in her Aeneas, if we are to credit Virgil? For 
she had begged him to tell her of his wars, and the ruin 
and destruction of Troy, and he had gratified her wish, 
albeit to his own great grief, to renew the memory of such 
sorrows, and in his discourse had dwelt by the way on his 
own valiant achievements. And Dido having well marked 
all these and pondered them in her breast, and presently 
declaring of her love to her sister Anna, the chiefest and 
most pregnant of the words she said to her were these 
and no other : "Ah ! sister mine, what a guest is this which 
hath come to my Court ! Oh ! the noble way he hath with 
him, and how his very carriage doth announce him a brave 
and most valiant warrior, in deed and in spirit! I do 
firmly believe him to be the offspring of some race of gods ; 
for churlish hearts are ever cowardly of their very 
nature." Such were Dido's words; and I think she did 
come to love him so, quite as much because she was her- 
self brave and generous-hearted, and that her instinct 
did push her to love her fellow, as to win help and service 
of him in case of need. But the wretch did deceive and 
desert her in pitiful wise, an ill deed he should never 
have done to so honourable a lady, which had given him 



. : ? 

her heart and her love, to him, I say, that was but a 
stranger and an outlaw. 

Boccaccio in his book of Famous Folk which have 
been Unfortunate, 2 doth tell a tale of a certain 
Duchess of Forli, named Romilda, who having lost 
husband and lands and goods, all which Caucan, 
King of the Avarese, had robbed her of, was 
constrained to take refuge with her children in her castle 
of Forli, and was therein besieged by him. But one 
day when he did approach near the walls to make a 
reconnaissance, Romilda who was on the top of a tower, 
saw him and did long and carefully observe him. Then 
seeing him so handsome, being in the flower of his age, 
mounted on a fine horse and clad in a magnificent suit 
of mail, and knowing how he was used to do many doughty 
deeds of war, and that he did never spare himself any 
more than the least of his soldiers, she did incontinently 
fall deeply enamoured of the man, and quitting to mourn 
for her husband and all care for her castle and the siege 
thereof, did send him word by a messenger that, if he 
would have her in marriage, she would yield him up the 
place on the day their wedding should be celebrated. 

King Caucan took her at her word. Accordingly the 
day agreed upon being come, lo! she doth deck herself 
most stately as a duchess should in her finest and most 
magnificent attire, which did make her yet fairer still to 
look on, exceeding fair as she was by nature. So having 
come to the King's camp for to consummate the marriage, 
this last, to the end he might not be blamed as not having 
kept his word, did spend all that night in satisfying the 
enamoured duchess's desires. But the next morning, on 
rising, he did have a dozen Averese soldiers of his called, 





such as he deemed to be the strongest and most stalwart 
fellows, and gave Romilda into their hands, to take their 
pleasure of her one after other. These did have her for 
all a night long so oft as ever they could. But then, 
when day was come again, Caucan having summoned her 
before him, and after sternly upbraiding her for her wan- 
tonness and heaping many insults upon her, did have her 
impaled through her belly, of which cruel treatment she 
did presently die. Truly a savage and barbarous act, so 
to mishandle a fair and honourable lady, instead of dis- 
playing gratitude, rewarding her and treating her with all 
possible courtesy, for the good opinion she had showed of 
his generosity, valour and noble courage, and her love for 
him therefor ! And of this must fair ladies sometimes have 
good heed ; for of these valiant men of war there be some 
which have so grown accustomed to killing and slashing 
and savagely plying the steel, that now and again it doth 
take their humour to exercise the like barbarity on women. 
Yet are not all of this complexion, but rather, when 
honourable ladies do them this honour to love them and 
hold their valour in high esteem, they do leave behind in 
camp their fury and fierce passions, and in court and 
ladies' chambers do fit themselves to the practise of all 
gentleness and kindness and fair courtesy. 

Bandello in his Tragic Histories s doth relate one, the 
finest story I have ever read, of a certain Duchess of 
Savoy, who one day coming forth from her good town of 
Turin, did hear a Spanish woman, a pilgrim on her road to 
Loretto to perform a vow, cry out and admire her beauty 
and loudly declare, how that if only so fair and perfect a 
lady were wedded to her brother, the Senor de Mendoza, 
which was himself so handsome, brave and valiant, folk 





might well say in all lands that now the finest and hand- 
somest couple in all the world were mated together. The 
Duchess who did very well understand the Spanish tongue, 
having graven these words in her breast and pondered 
them over in her heart, did anon begin to grave love in 
the same place likewise. In such wise that by this report 
of his merits she did fall so passionately in love with the 
Senor de Mendoza as that she did never slacken till she 
had planned a pretended pilgrimage to St. James of Com- 
postella, for to see the man for whom she had so suddenly 
been smit with love. So having journeyed to Spain, and 
taken the road passing by the house of de Mendoza, she 
had time and leisure to content and satisfy her eyes with 
a good sight of the fair object she had chosen. For the 
Senor de Mendoza's sister, which was in the Duchess' 
train, had advised her brother of so distinguished and fair 
a visitor's coming. Wherefore he did not fail to go forth 
to meet her in gallant array, and mounted on a noble 
Spanish horse, and this with so fine a grace as that the 
Duchess could not but be assured of the truth of the fair 
report which had been given her, and did admire him 
greatly, as well for his handsome person as for his noble 
carriage, which did plainly manifest the valiance that was 
in him. This she did esteem even more highly than all his 
other merits, accomplishments and perfections, presaging 
even at that date how she would one day mayhap have need 
of his valour, as truly in after times he did excellently 
serve her under the false accusation which Count Pancalier 
brought against her chastity. Natheless, though she did 
find him brave and courageous as a man of arms, yet for 
the nonce was he a recreant in love ; for he did show him- 
self so cold and respectful toward her as to try never an 





assault of amorous words, the very thing she did most 
desire, and for which she had undertook her journey. 
Wherefore, in sore despite at so chilling a respect, or to 
speak plainly such recreancy in love, she did part from 
him on the morrow, not near so well content as she had 

Thus we see how true 'tis that ladies do sometimes love 
men no less which are bold in love than they which be 
brave in arms, not that they would have them brazen 
and over-bold, impudent and self-satisfied, as I have known 
some to be. But in this matter must they keep ever the 
via media. 

I have known not a few which have lost many a good 
fortune with women by reason of such over-respectful- 
ness, whereof I could tell some excellent stories, were I 
not af eared of wandering too far from the proper subject 
of my Discourse. But I hope to give them in a separate 
place; so I will only tell the following one here. 

I have heard tell in former days of a lady, and one of the 
fairest in all the world, who having in the like fashion heard 
a certain Prince given out by repute for brave and valiant, 
and that he had already in his young days done and 
performed great exploits of war, and in especial won two 
great and signal victories against his foes, 4 did conceive a 
strong desire to see him; and to this end did make a 
journey to the province wherein he was then tarrying, 
under some pretext or other that I need not name. Well I 
at last she did set forth; and presently, for what is 
not possible to a brave and loving heart? she doth gain 
sight of him and can contemplate him at her ease, for he 
did come out a long distance to meet her, and doth now 
receive her with all possible honour and respect, as was 




meet for so great, fair and noble-hearted a Princess. 
Nay! the respect was e'en too great, some do say; for 
the same thing happened as with the Senor de Mendoza 
and the Duchess of Savoy, and such excessive respectful- 
ness did but engender the like despite and dissatisfaction. 
At any rate she did part from him by no means so well 
satisfied as she had come. It may well be he would but 
have wasted his time without her yielding one whit to his 
wishes ; but at the least the attempt would not have been 
ill, but rather becoming to a gallant man, and folk would 
have esteemed him the better therefor. 

Why! what is the use of a bold and generous spirit, 
if it show not itself in all things, as well in love as in 
war? For love and arms be comrades, and do go side 
by side with a single heart, as saith the Latin poet: 
"Every lover is a man of war, and Cupid hath his camp 
and arms no less than Mars." Ronsard hath writ a fine 
sonnet hereanent in the first book of his "Amours." 


OWEVER to return to the fainness women do 
display to see and love great-hearted and 
valiant men, I have heard it told of the 
Queen of England, Elizabeth, the same which 
is yet reigning at this hour, how that one day being at 
table, entertaining at supper the Grand Prior of France, 
a nobleman of the house of Lorraine, and M. d'Anville, 
now M. de Montmorency and Constable of France, the 
table discourse having fallen among divers other matters 
on the merits of the late King Henri II. of France, she 
did commend that Prince most highly, for that he was 




so brave, and to use her own word so martial a monarch, 
as he had manifested plainly in all his doings. For which 
cause she had resolved, an if he had not died so early, to 
go visit him in his Kingdom, and had actually had her 
galleys prepared and made ready for to cross over into 
France, and so the twain clasp hands and pledge their 
faith and peaceable intent. "In fact 'twas one of my 
strongest wishes to see this hero. I scarce think he would 
have refused me, for," she did declare, "my humour is to 
love men of courage. And I do sore begrudge death his 
having snatched away so gallant a King, at any rate be- 
fore I had looked on his face." 

This same Queen, some while after, having heard great 
renown of the Due de Nemours for the high qualities and 
valour that were in him, was most eager to enquire news of 
him from the late deceased M. de Rendan 1 at the time 
when King Francis II did send him to Scotland to con- 
clude a peace under the walls of Leith, 2 which was then 
besieged by the English. And so soon as he had told the 
Queen at length all the particulars of that nobleman's 
high and noble deeds and merits and points of gallantry, 
M. de Rendan, who was no less understanding in matters 
of love than of arms, did note in her and in her counte- 
nance a certain sparkle of love or at the least liking, as 
well as in her words a very strong desire to see him. 
Wherefore, fain not to stay her in so excellent a path, 
he did what he could to find out from her whether, if 
the Duke should come to see her, he would be welcome and 
well received. She did assure him this would certainly 
be so, from which he did conclude they might very well 
come to be wed. 

Presently being returned to the Court of France from 



off his embassy, he did report all the discourse to the 
King and M. de Nemours. Whereupon the former did 
command and urge M. de Nemours to agree to the thing. 
This he did with very great alacrity, if he could come 
into so fine a Kingdom by the means of so fair, so vir- 
tuous and noble a Queen. 

As a result the irons were soon in the fire. With the 
good means the King did put in his hands, the Duke did 
presently make very great and magnificent preparations 
and equipments, both of raiment, horses and arms, and 
in fact of all costly and beautiful things, without omitting 
aught needful (for myself did see all this) to go and ap- 
pear before this fair Princess, above all forgetting not to 
carry thither with him all the flower of the young nobility 
of the Court. Indeed Greffier, the Court fool, remarking 
thereupon did say 'twas wondrous how all the gay pease 
"blossom of the land was going overseas, pointing by this 
his jape at the wild young bloods of the French Court. 

Meantime M. de Lignerolles, a gentleman of much 
adroitness and skill, and at that time an high favourite 
with M. de Nemours, his master, was despatched to the 
said fair Princess, and anon returned bearing a most 
gentle answer and one very meet to content him, and 
cause him to press on and further hasten his journey. 
And I remember me the marriage was held at Court to 
be as good as made. Yet did we observe how all of a 
sudden the voyage in question was broke off short and 
never made, and this in spite of a very great expenditure 
thereon, now all vain and useless. 

Myself could say as well as any man in France what 
'twas did lead to this rupture; yet will I remark thus 
much only in passing: It may well be other loves did 





more move his heart, and held him more firm a captive. 
For truly he was so accomplished in all ways and so skilful 
in arms and all good exercises, as that ladies did vie with 
each other in running after him. So I have seen some 
of the most high-spirited and virtuous women which were 
ready enough to break their fast of chastity for him. 

We have, in the Cent Nouvelles of Queen Marguerite of 
Navarre, a very excellent tale of that lady of Milan, which 
having given assignation to the late M. de Bonnivet, since 
that day Admiral of France, one night, did charge her 
chamber-women to stand with drawn swords in hand and 
to make a disturbance on the steps, just as he should be 
ready to go to bed. This they did to great effect, follow- 
ing therein their mistress' orders, which for her part did 
feign to be terrified and sore afraid, crying out 'twas her 
husband's brothers which had noted something amiss, 
and that she was undone, and that he should hide under the 
bed or behind the arras. But M. de Bonnivet, without the 
least panic, taking his cloak round the one arm and 
his sword in the other hand, said only: "Well, well! 
where be they, these doughty brothers, which would 
fright me or do me hurt? Soon as they shall see me, 
they will not so much as dare look at the point of my 
sword." So saying, he did throw open the door and sally 
forth, but as he was for charging down the steps, lo ! he 
did find only the women and their silly noise, which were 
sore scared at sight of him and began to scream and con- 
fess the whole truth. M. de Bonnivet, seeing what was 
toward, did straight leave the jades, commending them 
to the devil, and hying him back to the bedchamber, shut- 
teth to the door behind him. Thus did he betake him to 
his lady once more, which did then fall a-laughing and 


: rA\ir/s\iMkWwww*i&ir^ 



a-kissing of him, confessing how 'twas naught but a trick 
of her contriving, and declaring, an if he had played the 
poltroon and had not shown his valiance, whereof he had 
the repute, that he should never have lain with her. But 
seeing he had proved him so bold and confident of heart, 
she did therefore kiss him and frankly welcome him to 
her bed. And all night long 'twere better not to enquire 
too close what they did ; for indeed she was one of the fair- 
est women in all Milan, and one with whom he had had 
much pains to win her over. 

I once knew a gallant gentleman, who one day being at 
Rome to bed with a pretty Roman lady, in her husband's 
absence, was alarmed in like wise; for she did cause one 
of her waiting women to come in hot haste to warn him 
the husband was hunting round. The lady, pretending 
sore amazement, did beseech the gentleman to hide in a 
closet, else she was undone. "No, no!" my friend made 
answer, "I would not do that for all the world ; but an if 
he come, why! I will kill him." With this he did spring 
to grasp his sword; but the lady only fell a-laughing, 
and did confess how she had arranged it all of set purpose 
to prove him, to see what he would do, if her husband did 
threat him with hurt, and whether he would make a good 
defence of his mistress. 

I likewise knew a very fair lady, who did quit outright 
a lover she had, because she deemed him a coward; and 
did change him for another, which did in no way resem- 
ble him, but was feared and dreaded exceedingly for his 
powers of fence, being one of the best swordsmen to be 
found in those days. 

I have heard a tale told at Court by the old gossips, of 
a lady which was at Court, mistress of the late M. de 



Lorge, 8 that good soldier and in his younger days one of 
the bravest and most renowned captains of foot men 
of his time. She having heard so much praise given to 
his valour, was fain, one day that King Francis the First 
was showing a fight of lions at his Court, to prove him 
whether he was so brave as folk made out. Wherefore 
she did drop one of her gloves in the lions' den, whenas 
they were at their fiercest ; and with that did pray M. de 
Lorge to go get it for her, an if his love of her were as 
great as he was forever saying. He without any show 
of surprise, doth take his cloak on fist and his sword in 
the other hand, and so boldly forth among the lions for 
to recover the glove. In this emprise was fortune so 
favourable to him, that seeing he did all through show a 
good front and kept the point of his sword boldly pre- 
sented to the lions, these did not dare attack him. So 
after picking up the glove, he did return toward his mis- 
tress and gave it back to her; for the which she and 
all the company there present did esteem him very highly. 
But 'tis said that out of sheer despite at such treatment, 
M. de Lorge did quit her for ever, forasmuch as she had 
thought good to make her pastime of him and his valiance 
in this fashion. Nay! more, they say he did throw the 
glove in her face, out of mere despite ; for he had rather 
an hundred times she had bid him go break up a whole 
battalion of foot soldiery, a matter he was duly trained 
to undertake, than thus to fight beasts, a contest where 
glory is scarce to be gained. At any rate suchlike trials 
of men's courage be neither good nor honourable, and 
they that do provoke the same are much to be blamed. 
I like as little another trick which a certain lady did 
play her lover. For when he was offering her his service, 



assuring her there was never a thing, be it as perilous as 
it might, he would not do for her, she taking him at his 
word, did reply, "Well! an if you love me so much, and 
be as courageous as you say, stab yourself with your 
dagger in the arm for the love of me." The other, who 
was dying for love of her, did straight draw his weapon, 
ready to give himself the blow. However I did hold his 
arm and took the dagger from him, remonstrating and 
saying he would be a great fool to go about it in any such 
fashion to prove his love and courage. I will not name 
the lady; but the gentleman concerned was the late de- 
ceased M. de Clermont-Tallard the elder, which fell at 
the battle of Montcontour, one of the bravest and most 
valiant gentlemen of France, as he did show by his death, 
when in command of a company of men-at-arms, a man 
I did love and honour greatly. 

I have heard say a like thing did once happen to the 
late M. de Genlis, the same which fell in Germany, leading 
the Huguenot troops in the third of our wars of Religion. 
For crossing the Seine one day in front of the Louvre 
with his mistress, she did let fall her handkerchief, which 
was a rich and beautiful one, into the water on purpose, 
and told him to leap into the river to recover the same. 
He, knowing not how to swim but like a stone, was fain 
to be excused ; but she upbraiding him and saying he was 
a recreant lover, and no brave man, without a word more 
he did throw himself headlong into the stream, and think- 
ing to get the handkerchief, would assuredly have been 
drowned, had he not been promptly rescued by a boat. 

Myself believe that suchlike women, by such trials^ do 
desire in this wise gracefully to be rid of their lovers, 
which mayhap do weary them. 'Twere much better did 




they give them good favours once for all and pray them, 
for the love they bear them, to carry these forth to hon- 
ourable and perilous places in the wars, and so prove their 
valour. Thus would they push them on to greater 
prowess, rather than make them perform the follies I 
have just spoke of, and of which I could recount an in- 
finity of instances. 

This doth remind me, how that, whenas we were ad- 
vancing to lay siege to Rouen in the first war of Religion, 
Mademoiselle de Piennes, one of the honourable damsels 
of the Court, being in doubt as to whether the late M. de 
Gergeay was valiant enough to have killed, himself alone 
and man to man, the late deceased Baron d'Ingrande, 
which was one of the most valiant gentlemen of the Court, 
did for to prove his valiance, give him a favour, a scarf 
which he did affix to his head harness. Then, on occasion 
of the making a reconnaissance of the Fort of St. Cather- 
ine, he did charge so boldly and valiantly on a troop of 
horse which had sallied forth of the city, that bravely 
fighting he did receive a pistol shot in the head, whereof 
he did fall stark dead on the spot. In this wise was the 
said damsel fully satisfied of his valour, and had he not 
been thus killed, seeing he had fought so well, she would 
have wedded him ; but doubting somewhat his courage, and 
deeming he had slain the aforesaid Baron unfairly, for so 
she did suspect, she was fain, as she said, to make this 
visible trial of him. And verily, although there be many 
men naturally courageous, yet do the ladies push the 
same on to greater prowess; while if they be cold and 
cowardly, they do move them to some gallantry and warm 
them up to some show of fight. 

We have an excellent example hereof in the beautiful 



Agnes Sorel,* who seeing the King of France Charles 
VII. 5 deep in love with her, and recking of naught but to 
pleasure her, and slack and cowardly take no heed for his 
kingdom, did say to him one day, how that when she was 
a child, an astrologer had predicted she would be loved 
and served of one of the most valiant and courageous 
kings of Christendom. Accordingly, whenas the King 
did her the honour to love her, she did think he was the 
valorous monarch which had been predicted for her; but 
seeing him so slack, with so little care of his proper busi- 
ness, she did plainly perceive she was deceived in this, and 
that the courageous King intended was not he at all, but 
the King of England, 6 which did perform such fine feats 
of war, and did take so many of his fairest cities from 
under his very nose. "Wherefore," she said to her lover, 
"I am away to find him, for of a surety 'tis he the astrolo- 
ger did intend." These words did so sorely prick the 
King's heart, as that he fell a-weeping; and thencefor- 
ward, plucking up spirit and quitting his hunting and 
his gardens, he did take the bit in his teeth, and this to 
such good effect that by dint of good hap and his own 
valiance he did drive the English forth of his Kingdom 

Bertrand du Guesclin 7 having wedded his wife Madame 
Tiphaine, did set himself all to pleasure her and so did 
neglect the management of the War, he who had been so 
forward therein afore, and had won him such praise and 
glory. But she did upbraid him with this remonstrance, 
how that before their marriage folk did speak of naught 
but him and his gallant deeds, but henceforth she might 
well be reproached for the discontinuance of her hus- 
band's fair deeds and good repute. This she said was a 




very great disgrace to her and him, that he had now 
grown such a stay-at-home; and did never cease her chid- 
ing, till she had roused in him his erstwhile spirit, and 
sent him back to the wars, where he did even doughtier 
deeds than aforetime. 

Thus do we see how this honourable lady did not love 
so much her night's pleasures as she did value the honour 
of her husband. And of a surety our wives themselves, 
though they do find us near by their side, yet an if we be 
not brave and valiant, will never really love us nor keep 
us by them of good and willing heart; whereas when we 
be returned from the wars and have done some fine and 
noble exploit, then they do verily and indeed love us and 
embrace of right good will, and themselves find the enjoy- 
ment most precious. 

The fourth daughter of the Comte de Provence, father- 
in-law of St. Louis, and herself wife to Charles, Count of 
Anjou, brother of the said King, being sore vexed, high- 
spirited and ambitious Princess as she was, at being but 
plain Countess of Anjou and Provence, and because she 
alone of her three sisters, of whom two were Queens and 
the third Empress, did bear no better title than that my 
Lady and Countess, did never cease till she had prayed, 
beseeched and importuned her husband to conquer and 
get some Kingdom for himself. And they did contrive 
so well as that they were chose of Pope Urban to be King 
and Queen of the Two Sicilies; and they did away, the 
twain of them, to Rome with thirty galleys to be crowned 
by his Holiness, with all state and splendour, King and 
Queen of Jerusalem and Naples, which dominion he did 
win afterward, no less by his victorious arms than by the 
aid his wife afforded him, selling all her rings and jewels 



for to provide the expenses of the war. So thereafter 
did they twain reign long and not unpeaceably in the 
fine kingdoms they had gotten. 

Long years after, one of their grand-daughters, issue 
of them and theirs, Ysabeau de Lorraine to wit, without 
help of her husband Rene, did carry out a like emprise. 
For while her husband was prisoner in the hands of 
Charles, Duke of Burgundy, she being a Princess of a 
wise prudence and high heart and courage, the Kingdom 
of Sicily and Naples having meantime fallen to them in 
due succession, did assemble an army of thirty thousand 
men. This she did lead forth in person, and so conquer 
all the Kingdom and take possession of Naples. 


COULD name an host of ladies which have 
in suchlike ways done great and good service 
to their husbands, and how being high of 
heart and ambition they have pushed on and 
encouraged their mates to court fortune, and to win 
goods and grandeur and much wealth. And truly 'tis 
the most noble and most honourable fashion of getting 
of such things, thus at the sword's point. 

I have known many men in this our land of France 
and at our Courts, which really more by the urging of 
their wives than by any will of their own, have undertaken 
and accomplished gallant exploits. 

Many women on the other hand have I known, which 
thinking only of their own good pleasures, have stood in 
their husbands' way and kept the same ever by their side, 
hindering them of doing noble deeds, unwilling to have 




them find amusement in aught else but in contenting them 
at the game of Venus, so keen were they after this sport. 
I could tell many a tale hereof, but I should be going too 
far astray from my subject, which is a worthier one for 
sure, seeing it doth handle virtue, than the other, which 
hath to do with vice. 'Tis more pleasant by far to hear 
tell of such ladies as have pushed on their men to noble 
deeds. Nor do I speak solely of married women, but of 
many others beside, which by dint of one little favour be- 
stowed, have made their lovers to do many a fine thing 
they had never done else. For what a satisfaction is 
theirs ! what incitement and warming of heart is greater 
than when at the wars a man doth think how he is well 
loved of his mistress, and if only he do some fine thing 
for the love of her, what kind looks and pretty ways, 
what fair glances, what kissings, delights and joys, he 
may hope after to receive of her? 

Scipio amongst other rebukes he did administer to 
Massinissa, when, all but bloody yet from battle, he did 
wed Sophonisba, said to him: how that 'twas ill-becoming 
to think of ladies and the love of ladies, when at the wars. 
He must pardon me here, an if he will; but for my own 
part, I ween there is no such great contentment, nor one 
that giveth more courage and emulation to do nobly than 
they. I have travelled in that country myself in old 
days. And not only I, but all such, I do firmly believe, as 
take the field and fight, do find the same; and to them I 
make appeal. I am sure they be all of my opinion, be 
they who they may, and that whenas they are embarked 
on some good warlike emprise, and presently find them- 
selves in the heat of battle and press of the foe, their heart 
doth swell within them as they think on their ladies, the 




favours they do carry of them, and the caresses and gentle 
welcome they will receive of the same after the war is 
done, if they but escape, and if they come to die, the 
sore grief they will feel for love of them and thought of 
their end. In a word, for the love of their ladies and 
fond thoughts of them, all emprises be facile and easy, 
the sternest fights be but merry tourneys to them, and 
death itself a triumph. 

I do remember me how at the battle of Dreux the late 
M. des Bordes, a brave and gentle knight if ever there was 
one in his day, being Lieutenant under M. de Nevers, 
known at the first as the Comte d'Eu, a most excellent 
Prince and soldier, when he had to charge to break up a 
battalion of foot which was marching straight on the 
advanced guard where was the late M. de Guise the Great, 
and the signal to charge was given, the said Des Bordes, 
mounted on a grey barb, doth start forward instantly, 
adorned and garnished with a very fine favour his mis- 
tress had given him (I will not name her, but she was one 
of the fair and honourable damsels and great ladies of 
the Court), and as he gave rein, he did cry: "Ha! I am 
away to fight valiantly for the love of my mistress, or to 
die for her!" And this boast he failed not to fulfil; for 
after piercing the six first ranks, he fell at the seventh, 
borne down to earth. Now tell me if this lady had not 
well used her favour, and if she had aught to reproach 
her with for having bestowed it on him ! 

M. de Bussi again was a young soldier which did as 
great honour to his mistresses' favours as any man of his 
time, yea ! and the favours of some I know of, which did 
merit more stricken fields and deeds of daring and good 
sword thrusts than did ever the fair Angelica of the 





Paladins and Knights of yore, whether Christian or Sara- 
cen. Yet have I heard him often declare that in all the 
single combats and wars and general rencounters (for he 
hath fought in many such) where he hath ever been en- 
gaged, 'twas not so much for the service of his Prince 
nor yet for love of success as for the sole honour and 
glory of contenting his lady love. He was surely right 
in this, for verily all the success in the world and all its 
ambitions be little worth in comparison of the love and 
kindness of a fair and honourable lady and mistress. 

And why else have so many brave Knights errant of the 
Round Table and so many valorous Paladins of France 
in olden time undertaken so many wars and far jour- 
neyings, and gone forth on such gallant emprises, if not 
for the love of the fair ladies they did serve or were fain 
to serve? I do appeal to our Paladins of France, our 
Rolands, Renauds, Ogiers, our Olivers, Yvons and Rich- 
ards, and an host of others. And truly 'twas a good 
time and a lucky ; for if they did accomplish some gallant 
deed for love of their ladies, these same fair ladies, in 
no wise ingrate, knew well how to reward them, whenas 
they hied them back to meet them, or mayhap would give 
them tryst there, in the forests and woodlands, or near 
some fair fountain or amid the green meadows. And is 
not this the guerdon of his doughtiness a soldier most 
doth crave of his lady love? 

Well! it yet remains to ask, why women do so love 
these men of valiance? First, as I did say at the begin- 
ning, valour hath in it a certain force and overmastering 
power to make itself loved of its opposite. Then be- 
side, there is a kind of natural inclination doth exist, 
constraining women to love great-heartedness, which to be 


ytfit^r7iSif?Si:rffirAW^ Mr^wrrs\irrY.,r^r 


sure is an hundred times more lovable than cowardice, 
even as virtue is alway more to be desired than vice. 

Some ladies there be which do love men thus gifted with 
valour, because they imagine that just as they be brave 
and expert at arms and in the trade of War, they must 
be the same at that of Love. 

And this rule doth hold really good with some. 'Twas 
fulfilled for instance by Caesar, that champion of the 
world, and many another gallant soldier I have known, 
though I name no names. And such lovers do possess 
a very different sort of vigour and charm from rustics 
and folk of any other profession but that of arms, so 
much so that one push of these same gallants is worth 
four of ordinary folk. When I say this, I do mean in 
the eyes of women moderately lustful, not of such as be 
inordinately so, for the mere number is what pleaseth 
this latter sort. But if this rule doth hold good some- 
times in some of these warlike fellows, and according to 
the humour of some women, it doth fail in others ; for 
some of these valiant soldiers there be so broken down 
by the burden of their harness and the heavy tasks of 
war, that they have no strength left when they have to 
come to this gentle game of love, in such wise that they 
cannot content their ladies, of whom some (and many 
are of such complexion), had liever have one good work- 
man at Venus' trade, fresh and ground to a good point, 
than four of these sons of Mars, thus broken-winged. 

I have known many of the sex of this sort and this 
humour ; for after all, they say, the great thing is to pass 
one's time merrily, and get the quintessence of enjoyment 
out of it, without any special choice of persons. A good 
man of war is good, and a fine sight on the field of bat- 



tie ; but an if he can do naught a-bed, they declare, a good 
stout lackey, in good case and practice, is every whit as 
worth having as a handsome and valiant gentleman, 
tired out. 

I do refer me to such dames as have made trial thereof, 
and do so every day ; for the gallant soldier's loins, be he 
as brave and valiant as he may, being broken and chafed 
of the harness they have so long carried on them, cannot 
afford the needful supply, as other men do, which have 
never borne hardship or fatigue. 

Other ladies there be which do love brave men, whether 
it be for husbands or for lovers, to the end these may 
show good fight and so better defend their honour and 
chastity, if any detractors should be fain to befoul these 
with ill words. Several such I have seen at Court, where 
I knew in former days a very great and a very fair lady 1 
whose name I had rather not give, who being much sub- 
ject to evil tongues, did quit a lover, and a very favour- 
ite one, she had, seeing him backward to come to blows 
and pick a quarrel and fight it out, to take another 2 
instead which was a mettlesome wight, a brave and valiant 
soul, which would gallantly bear his lady's honour on the 
point of his sword, without ever a man daring to touch 
the same in any wise. 

Many ladies have I known in my time of this humour, 
wishful always to have a brave gallant for their escort and 
defence. This no doubt is a good and very useful thing 
oftentimes for them; but then they must take good heed 
not to stumble or let their heart change toward them, once 
they have submitted to their domination. For if these 
fellows do note the least in the world of their pranks and 
fickle changes, they do lead them a fine life and rebuke 


r/ir/ r *w\iY4M?i&^ 


them in terrible wise, both them and their new gallants, 
if ever they change. Of this I have seen not a few ex- 
amples in the course of my life. 

Thus do we see how suchlike women, those that will fain 
have at command suchlike brave and mettlesome lovers, 
must needs themselves be brave and very faithful in their 
dealings with the same, or at any rate so secret in their 
intrigues as that they may never be discovered. Unless 
indeed they do compass the thing by some arrangement, 
as do the Italian and Roman courtesans, who are fain 
ever to have a bravo (this is the name they give him) to 
defend and keep them in countenance ; but 'tis always part 
of the bargain that they shall have other favoured swains 
as well, and the bravo shall never say one word. 

This is mighty well for the courtesans of Rome and 
their bravos, but not for the gallant gentlemen of France 
and other lands. But an if an honourable dame is ready 
to keep herself in all firmness and constancy, her lover is 
bound to spare his life in no way for to maintain and 
defend her honour, if she do run the very smallest risk 
of hurt, whether to her life or her reputation, or of some 
ill word of scandal. So have I seen at our own Court 
several which have made evil tattlers to hold their tongues 
at a moment's notice, when these had started some detrac- 
tion of their ladies or mistresses. For by devoir of 
knighthood and its laws we be bound to serve as their 
champions in any trouble, as did the brave Renaud for the 
fair Ginevra in Scotland, 3 the Senor de Mendoza for the 
beautiful Duchess I have spoke of above, and the Seigneur 
de Carouge for his own wedded wife in the days of King 
Charles VI., as we do read in our Chronicles. I could 
quote an host of other instances, as well of old as of mod- 




era times, to say naught of those I have witnessed at our 
own Court ; but I should never have done. 

Other ladies I have known which have quitted cowardly 
fellows, albeit these were very rich, to love and wed gen- 
tlemen that did possess naught at all but sword and cloak, 
so to say. But then they were valorous and great- 
hearted, and had hopes, by dint of their valiance and 
bravery, to attain to rank and high estate. Though truly 
'tis not the bravest that do most oft win these prizes ; 
but they do rather suffer sore wrong, while many a time 
we behold the cowardly and fainthearted succeed instead. 
Yet be this as it may, such fortune doth never become 
these so well as it doth the men of valour. 

But there, I should never get me done, were I to recount 
at length the divers causes and reasons why women do so 
love men of high heart and courage. I am quite sure, 
were I set on amplifying this Discourse with all the host 
of reasons and examples I might, I could make a whole 
book of it alone. However, as I wish not to tarry over 
one subject only, so much as to deal with various and 
divers matters, I will be satisfied to have said what I 
have said, albeit sundry will likely blame me, how that 
such and such a point was surely worthy of being en- 
riched by more instances and a string of prolix reasons, 
which themselves could very well supply, exclaiming, 
"Why! he hath clean forgot this; he hath clean forgot 
that." I know my subject well enough for all that; and 
mayhap I know more instances than ever they could ad- 
duce, and more startling and private. But I prefer not 
to divulge them all, and not to give the names. 

This is why I do hold my tongue. Yet, before making 
an end, I will add this further word by the way. Just 



as ladies do love men which be valiant and bold under 
arms, so likewise do they love such as be of like sort in 
love ; and the man which is cowardly and over and above 
respectful toward them, will never win their good favour. 
Not that they would have them so overweening, bold and 
presumptuous, as that they should by main force lay 
them on the floor; but rather they desire in them a cer- 
tain hardy modesty, or perhaps better a certain modest 
hardihood. For while themselves are not exactly wantons, 
and will neither solicit a man nor yet actually offer their 
favours, yet do they know well how to rouse the appetites 
and passions, and prettily allure to the skirmish in such 
wise that he which doth not take occasion by the forelock 
and join encounter, and that without the least awe of 
rank and greatness, without a scruple of conscience or 
a fear or any sort of hesitation, he verily is a fool and 
a spiritless poltroon, and one which doth merit to be for- 
ever abandoned of kind fortune. 

I have heard of two honourable gentlemen and com- 
rades, for the which two very honourable ladies, and of by 
no means humble quality, made tryst one day at Paris 
to go walking in a garden. Being come thither, each 
lady did separate apart one from the other, each alone 
with her own cavalier, each in a several alley of the gar- 
den, that was so close covered in with a fair trellis of 
boughs as that daylight could really scarce penetrate 
there at all, and the coolness of the place was very grate- 
ful. Now one of the twain was a bold man, and well 
knowing how the party had been made for something else 
than merely to walk and take the air, and judging by 
his lady's face, which he saw to be all a-fire, that she had 
longings to taste other fare than the muscatels that hung 





on the trellis, as also by her hot, wanton and wild speech, 
he did promptly seize on so fair an opportunity. So 
catching hold of her without the least ceremony, he did 
lay her on a little couch that was there made of turf and 
clods of earth, and did very pleasantly work his will of 
her, without her ever uttering a word but only: "Heav- 
ens! Sir, what are you at? Surely you be the maddest 
and strangest fellow ever was! If anyone comes, what- 
ever will they say? Great heavens! get out!" But the 
gentleman, without disturbing himself, did so well continue 
what he had begun that he did finish, and she to boot, with 
such content as that after taking three or four turns up 
and down the alley, they did presently start afresh. 
Anon, coming forth into another, open, alley, they did 
see in another part of the garden the other pair, who 
were walking about together just as they had left them 
at first. Whereupon the lady, well content, did say to 
the gentleman in the like condition, "I verily believe so 
and so hath played the silly prude, and hath given his 
lady no other entertainment but only words, fine speeches 
and promenading." 

Afterward when all four were come together, the two 
ladies did fall to asking one another how it had fared with 
each. Then the one which was well content did reply 
she was exceeding well, indeed she was ; indeed for the 
nonce she could scarce be better. The other, which was 
ill content, did declare for her part she had had to do 
with the biggest fool and most coward lover she had ever 
seen; and all the time the two gentlemen could see them 
laughing together as they walked and crying out: "Oh! 
the silly fool ! the shamefaced poltroon and coward !" At 
this the successful gallant said to his companion: "Hark 





to our ladies, which do cry out at you, and mock you sore. 
You will find you have overplayed the prude and coxcomb 
this bout." So much he did allow ; but there was no more 
time to remedy his error, for opportunity gave him no 
other handle to seize her by. Natheless, now recognizing 
his mistake, after some while he did repair the same by 
certain other means which I could tell, an if I would. 

Again I knew once two great Lords, brothers, both of 
them highly bred and highly accomplished gentlemen * 
which did love two ladies, but the one of these was of much 
higher quality and more account than the other in all 
respects. Now being entered both into the chamber of 
this great lady, who for the time being was keeping her 
bed, each did withdraw apart for to entertain his mis- 
tress. The one did converse with the high-born dame 
with every possible respect and humble salutation and 
kissing of hands, with words of honour and stately com- 
pliment, without making ever an attempt to come near 
and try to force the place. The other brother, without 
any ceremony of words or fine phrases, did take his fair 
one to a recessed window, and incontinently making free 
with her (for he was very strong), he did soon show her 
'twas not his way to love a I'espagnole, with eyes and 
tricks of face and words, but in the genuine fashion and 
proper mode every true lover should desire. Presently 
having finished his task, he doth quit the chamber ; but as 
he goes, saith to his brother, loud enough for his lady 
to hear the words: "Do you as I have done, brother 
mine; else you do naught at all. Be you as brave and 
hardy as you will elsewhere, yet if you show not your 
hardihood here and now, you are disgraced; for here is 
no place of ceremony and respect, but one where you do 




see your lady before you, which doth but wait your at- 
tack." So with this he did leave his brother, which yet 
for that while did refrain him and put it off to another 
time. But for this the lady did by no means esteem him 
more highly, whether it was she did put it down to an 
over chilliness in love, or a lack of courage, or a defect of 
bodily vigour. And still he had shown prowess enough 
elsewhere, both in war and love. 

The late deceased Queen Mother did one day cause to 
be played, for a Shrove Tuesday interlude, at Paris at the 
Hotel de Reims, a very excellent Comedy which Cornelio 
Fiasco, Captain of the Royal Galleys, had devised. All 
the Court was present, both men and ladies, and many 
folk beside of the city. Amongst other matters, was 
shown a young man which had laid hid a whole night 
long in a very fair lady's bedchamber, yet had never laid 
finger on her. Telling this hap to his friend, the latter 
asketh him: Ch'avete fatto? (What did you do?), to which 
the other maketh answer: Niente (Nothing). On hearing 
this, his friend doth exclaim: Ah! poltronazzo, senza 
cuore! non havete fatto niente! che maldita sia la tua pol- 
tronneria! "Oh! poltroon and spiritless! you did noth- 
ing ! a curse on your poltroonery then !" 

The same evening after the playing of this Comedy, as 
we were assembled in the Queen's chamber, and were dis- 
coursing of the said play, I did ask a very fair and hon- 
ourable lady, whose name I will not give, what were the 
finest points she had noted and observed in the Comedy, 
and which had most pleased her. She told me quite 
simply and frankly: The best point I noted was when 
his friend did make answer to the young man called Lucio, 
who had told him che non haveva fatto niente (that he had 


*:.*. .-- . . . ' * . -,".- . ' . ' . ' . 


done nothing) in this wise, Ah poltronazzo! non havete 
fatto niente! die maldita sia la tua poltronneria! "Oh! 
you poltroon! you did nothing! a curse be on your pol- 
troonery !" 

So you see how this fair lady which did talk with me 
was in agreement with the friend in reprobating his pol- 
troonery, and that she did in no wise approve of him for 
having been so slack and unenterprising. Thereafter she 
and I did more openly discourse together of the mistakes 
men make by not seizing opportunity and taking advan- 
tage of the wind when it bloweth fair, as doth the good 

This bringeth me to yet another tale, which I am fain, 
diverting and droll as it is, to mingle among the more 
serious ones. Well, then! I have heard it told by an 
honourable gentleman and a good friend of mine own, 
how a lady of his native place, having often shown great 
familiarities and special favour to one of her chamber 
lackeys, which did only need time and opportunity to come 
to a point, the said lackey, neither a prude nor a fool, 
finding his mistress one morning half asleep and lying on 
her bed, turned over away from the wall, tempted by such 
a display of beauty and a posture making it so easy and 
convenient, she being at the very edge of the bed, he did 
come up softly, and alongside the lady. She turning her 
head saw 'twas her lackey, which she was fain of ; and just 
as she was, her place occupied and all, without withdraw- 
ing or moving one whit, and neither resisting nor trying in 
the very least to shake off the hold he had of her, did only 
say to him, turning round her head only and holding still 
for fear of losing him, "Ho ! ho ! Mister prude, and what 
hath made you so bold as to do this?" The lackey did 




answer with all proper respect, "Madam, shall I leave?" 
"That's not what I said, Mister prude," the lady replied, 
"I ask you, what made you so bold as to put yourself 
there?" But the other did ever come back to the same 
question, "Madam, shall I stop? if you wish, I will go 
out," and she to repeating again and again, "That is 
not what I say, not what I say, Mister prude !" In fact, 
the pair of them did make these same replies and repeti- 
tions three or four times over, which did please the lady 
far better than if she had ordered her gallant to stop, 
when he did ask her. Thus it did serve her well to stick 
to her first question without ever a variation, and the 
lover in his reply and the repetition thereof. And in this 
wise did they continue to lie together for long after, the 
same rubric being always repeated as an accompaniment. 
For 'tis, as men say, the first batch only, and the first 
measure of wine, that costs dear. 

A good lackey and an enterprising! To such bold 
fellows we must needs say in the words of the Italian 
proverb, A bravo cazzo mai non manca favor. 

Well, from all this you learn how that there be many 
men which are brave, bold and valiant, as well in arms as 
in love ; others which be so in arms, but not in love ; others 
again, which be so in love and not in arms. Of this last 
sort was that rascally Paris, who indeed had hardihood 
and valiance enough to carry off Helen from her poor 
cuckold of a husband Menelaus, but not to do battle with 
him before Troy town. 

Moreover this is why the ladies love not old men, nor 
such as be too far advanced in years, seeing such be very 
timid in love and shamefaced at asking favours. This is 
not because they have not concupiscence and desires as 




great as young men, or even greater, but because they 
have not the powers to match. And this is what a Span- 
ish lady meant, which said once: how that old men did 
much resemble persons who, whenas they do behold kings 
in their magnificence, domination and authority, do covet 
exceedingly to be like them, yet would they never dare 
to make any attempt against them to dispossess them of 
their kingdoms and seize their place. She was used fur- 
ther to say, Y a penas es nacldo el deseo, cuando se muere 
luego, "Scarce is the desire born, but it dies straight- 
way." Thus old men, when they do see fair objects of 
attack, dare not take action, porque los viejos natural- 
mente son temerosos; y amor y temor no se cdben en un 
saco, "for that old men are naturally timid; and love 
and fear do never go well in one pack." And indeed they 
are quite right ; for they have arms neither for offence nor 
defence, like young folks, which have youth and beauty 
on their side. So verily, as saith the poet: naught is 
unbecoming to youth, do what it will; and as another 
hath it: two sorry sights, an old man-at-arms and an 
old lover. 


ijELL ! enough hath been said on this subject ; so 
I do here make an end and speak no more 
thereof. Only will I add somewhat on an- 
other point, one that is appertinent and be- 
longing as it were to this, to wit: how just as fair ladies 
do love brave men, and such as be valorous and great- 
hearted, in like wise do men love women brave of heart 
and noble-spirited. And as noble-spirited and coura- 
geous men be ever more lovable and admirable than others, 




so is the like true of illustrious, noble-hearted and 
courageous dames, not that I would have these perform 
the deeds of men, nor yet arm and accoutre them like a 
man, as I have seen and known, as well as heard tell 
of, some which would mount a-horse-back like a man, 
carry their pistol at saddle-bow, shoot off the same, and 
generally fight like a man. 

I could name one famous instance at any rate of a lady 
which did all this during the recent Wars of the League. 
But truly suchlike disguisement is an outrage to the sex. 
Besides its being neither becoming nor suitable, 'tis not 
lawful, and doth bring more harm and ill repute than 
many do suppose. Thus it did work great hurt to the 
gentle Maid of Orleans, who at her trial was sore calumni- 
ated on this very account, and this was in part cause of 
her sore and piteous downfall and death. Wherefore such 
masqueradings do like me not, nor stir me to any great 
admiration. Yet do I approve and much esteem a fair 
dame which doth make manifest her courageous and 
valiant spirit, being in adversity and downright need, by 
brave, womanly acts that do show a man's heart and cour- 
age. Without borrowing examples from the noble- 
hearted dames of Rome and of Sparta of yore, the which 
have excelled herein all other women in the world, there 
be others plain enough to be seen before our very eyes; 
and I do choose rather to adduce such modern instances 
belonging to our own day. 

The first example I shall give, and in my eyes the finest 
I know of is that of those fair, honourable and doughty 
dames of Sienna, at the time of the revolt of their city 
against the intolerable yoke of the Imperialists (Ghibel- 
lines). For after the dispositions had been fixed for the 





defence, the women of the city, being set aside therein as 
not apt for war like the men, were fain to make a display 
of their mettle, and show how that they could do some- 
thing else than only ply their female tasks of day and 
night. So, to bear their part of the work of defence, 
they did divide them into three bands or companies; and 
one St. Anthony's day, in the month of January, they 
did appear in public led by three of the fairest ladies, and 
the greatest and best born, of all the city, in the Great 
Square of that town (and it is a very noble one), with 
their drums and ensigns. 

The first was the Signora Forteguerra, clad in violet, 
her ensign of the same colour and all her company in like 
array, her banner bearing this device: Pur che sia il vero 
(Let the truth prevail). Now all these ladies were dressed 
in the guise of nymphs, with short skirts which did best 
discover and display the fine leg beneath. The second 
was the Signora Piccolomini, clad in scarlet, and her com- 
pany and ensign the same, with a white cross and this de- 
vice: Pur che no I'habbia tutto (Let him not have it all). 
The third was the Signora Livia Fausta, clad all in white, 
and her company in white and a white ensign, whereon 
was a palm, and for device: Pur che I'habbia (Let him 
have it, then!). 

Round about and in the train of these three, which did 
seem very goddesses, were a good three thousand other 
women, both gentlewomen, citizens' wives and others, all 
fair to look upon, and all duly clad in their proper dress 
and livery, whether of satin, taffety, damask, or other 
silken stuff, and each and all firm resolved to live or die 
for freedom. Moreover each did carry a fascine on her 
shoulder for a fort which was a-building, while all cried 



out together, France, France! With this spectacle, so 
rare and delightsome an one, the Cardinal of Ferrara and 
M. de Termes, the French King's Lieutenants, were so 
ravished, as that they did find no other pleasure but only 
in watching, admiring and commending these same fair 
and honourable ladies. And of a truth I have heard 
many say, both men and women, which were there pres- 
ent, that never was seen so fine a sight. And God know- 
eth, beautiful women be not lacking in this city of Sienna, 
and that in abundance, and without picking and choosing. 
The men of the city, which of their own wishes were 
greatly set on winning their freedom, were yet more en- 
couraged to the same by this noble display, unwilling to 
fall below the women in zeal. In such wise that all did 
vie with one another, Lords, gentlemen, citizens, trades- 
folk, artizans, rich and poor alike, and all did flock to 
the fort to imitate the example of these fair, virtuous 
and honourable dames. So all in much emulation, and 
not laymen alone, but churchmen to boot, did join in 
pushing on the good work. Then, on returning back 
from the fort, the men on one side, and the women like- 
wise ranged in battle array in the great square before 
the Palace of the Signoria, they did advance one after 
other, and company after company, to salute the image of 
the Blessed Virgin, patroness of the city, singing the while 
sundry hymns and canticles in her honour, to airs so soft 
and with so gracious an harmony that, part of pleasure, 
part of pity, tears 'gan fall from the eyes of all the people 
present. These after receiving the benediction of the 
most reverend Cardinal of Ferrara, did withdraw, each 
to their own abode, all the whole folk, men and women 





alike, with fixed resolve to do their duty yet better for 
the future. 

This sacred ceremony of these ladies doth remind me 
(but without making comparison 'twixt the two) of a 
heathen one, yet goodly withal, which was performed at 
Rome at the period of the Punic Wars, as we do read in 
the Historian Livy. 'Twas a solemn progress and pro- 
cession made by three times nine, which is twenty-seven, 
young and pretty Roman maids, all of them virgins, clad 
in longish frocks, of which history doth not however tell 
us the colours. These dainty maids, their solemn march 
and procession completed, did then make halt at a certain 
spot, where they proceeded to dance a measure before the 
assembled people, passing from hand to hand a cord or 
ribband, ranged all in order one after other, and stepping 
a round, accommodating the motion and twinkling of their 
feet to the cadence of the tune and the song they sang 
the while. It was a right pretty sight to see, no less 
for the beauty of the maids than for their sweet grace, 
their dainty way of dancing and the adroit tripping of 
their feet, the which is one of the chiefest charms of a 
maid, when she is skilled to move and guide the same 
daintily and well. 

I have oft pictured to myself the measure they did so 
dance; and it hath brought to my mind one I have seen 
performed in my young days by the girls of mine own 
countryside, called the "garter." In this, the village 
girls, giving and taking the garter from hand to hand, 
would pass and re-pass these above their heads, then en- 
tangle and interlace the same between their legs, leaping 
nimbly over them, then unwinding them and slipping free 
with little, dainty bounds, all this while keeping rank 




one after other, without once losing cadence with the song 
or instrument of music which led the measure, in such 
wise that the thing was a mighty pretty thing to see. For 
the little leaps and bounds they gave, the interlacing and 
slipping free again, the wielding of the garter and the 
graceful carriage of the girls, did all provoke so dainty 
a smack of naughtiness, as that I do marvel much the 
said dance hath never been practised at Court in these 
days of ours. Pleasant 'tis to see the dainty drawers, 
and the fine leg freely exhibited in this dance, and which 
lass hath the best fitting shoe and the most alluring mien. 
But truly it can be better appreciated by the eye than 
described in words. 

But to return to our ladies of Sienna. Ah! fair and 
valiant dames, you should surely never die, you nor your 
glory, which will be for ever immortal. So too another 
fair and gentle maid of your city, who during its siege, 
seeing one night her brother kept a prisoner by sickness 
in his bed and in very ill case to go on guard, doth leave 
him there a-bed and slipping quietly away from his side, 
doth take his arms .and accoutrements, and so, a very 
perfect likeness of her brother, maketh appearance with 
the watch. Nor was she discovered, but by favour of 
the night was really taken for him she did represent. A 
gentle act, in truth! for albeit she had donned a man's 
dress and arms, yet was it not to make a constant habit 
thereof, but for the nonce only to do a good office for her 
brother. And indeed 'tis said no love is like that of 
brother and sister, and further that in a good cause no 
risk should be spared to show a gentle intrepidity of heart, 
in whatsoever place it be. 

I ween the corporal of the guard which was then in 




command of the squad in which was this fair girl, when 
he wist of her act, was sore vexed he had not better recog- 
nized her, so to have published abroad her merit on the 
spot, or mayhap to have relieved her of standing sentry, 
or else merely to have taken his pleasure in gazing on her 
beauty and grace, and her military bearing; for no doubt 
at all she did study in all things to counterfeit a soldier's 

Of a surety so fine a deed could scarce be overpraised, 
and above all when the occasion was so excellent, and the 
thing carried out for a brother's sake. The like was done 
by the gentle Richardet, in the Romance, but for different 
purpose, when after hearing one evening his sister 
Bramante discourse of the beauties of the fair Princess 
of Spain, and of her own love and vain desires after her, 
he did take her accoutrements and fine frock, after she 
was to bed, and so disguiseth himself in the likeness of his 
sister, the which he could readily accomplish, so like 
they were in face and beauty. Then presently, under this 
feigned form he did win from the said lovely Princess what 
was denied his sister by reason of her sex. Whereof, how- 
ever, great hurt had come to him, but for the favour of 
Roger, who taking him for his mistress Bramante, did 
save him scatheless pf death. 1 

Now as to the ladies of Sienna, I have heard it of M. de 
La Chapelle des Ursins, which was at that time in Italy, 
and did make report of this their gallant exploit to our 
late King Henri II. of France, how that this monarch 
did find the same so noble, that with tears in his eyes he 
took an oath, an if one day God should grant him peace 
or truce with the Emperor, he would hie him with his 
galleys across the Tuscan sea, and so to Sienna, to see 





this city so well affected to him and his party, and thank 
the citizens for their good will and gallantry, and above 
all to behold these fair and honourable ladies and give 
them especial thanks. 

I am sure he would not have failed so to do, for he did 
highly honour the said good and noble dames. Accord- 
inly he did write them, addressing chiefly the three chief 
leaders, letters the most gracious possible, full of thanks 
and compliments, the which did pleasure them greatly 
and animate their courage to yet an higher pitch. 

Alas ! the truce came right enough some while after ; 
but meantime the city had been taken, as I have described 
elsewhere. Truly 'twas an irreparable loss to France to 
be deprived of so noble and affectionate an ally, which 
mindful and conscious of the ties of its ancient origin, 
was always fain to join us and take place in our ranks. 
For they say these gallant Siennese be sprung from that 
people of France which in Gaul they did call the Senones 
in old times, now known as the folk of Sens. Moreover 
they do retain to this day somewhat of the humour of us 
Frenchmen; they do very much wear their heart on their 
sleeve, as the saying is, and be quick, sudden and keen 
like us. The Siennese ladies likewise have much of those 
pretty ways and charming manners and graceful familiar- 
ities which be the especial mark of Frenchwomen. 

I have read in an old Chronicle, which I have cited 
elsewhere, how King Charles VIII., on his Naples jour- 
ney, when he did come to Sienna, was there welcomed with 
so magnificent and so triumphal an entry, as that it did 
surpass all the others he received in all Italy. They did 
even go so far by way of showing greater respect and as 
a sign of humbleness, as to take all the city gates from 




off their hinges and lay the same flat on the ground; 
and so long as he did tarry there, the gates were thus left 
open and unguarded to all that came and went, then 
after, on his departure, set up again as before. 

I leave you to imagine if the King, and all his Court 
and army, had not ample and sufficient cause to love and 
honour this city (as indeed he did always), and to say all 
possible good thereof. In fact their stay there was ex- 
ceeding agreeable to him and to all, and 'twas forbid 
under penalty of death to offer any sort of insult, as 
truly not the very smallest did ever occur. Ah! gallant 
folk of Sienna, may ye live for ever! Would to heaven 
ye were still ours in all else, as it may well be, ye are yet 
in heart and soul ! For the overrule of a King of France 
is far gentler than that of a Duke of Florence; and be- 
sides this, the kinship of blood can never go for naught. 
If only we were as near neighbours as we be actually 
remote from each other, we might very like be found at 
one in will and deed. 

In like wise the chiefest ladies of Pavia, at the siege 
of that town by King Francis I. of France, following the 
lead and example of the noble Countess Hippolita de 
Malespina, their generalissima, did set them to carrying 
of the earth-baskets, shifting soil and repairing the 
breaches in their walls, vying with the soldiery in their 

Conduct like that of the Siennese dames I have just 
told of, myself did behold on the part of certain ladies 
of La Rochelle, 2 at the siege of their town. And I re- 
member me how on the first Sunday of Lent during the 
siege, the King's brother, our General, did summon M. de 
la Noue to come before him on his parole, and speak with 




him and give account of the negotiations he had charged 
him withal on behalf of the said city, all the tale whereof 
is long and most curious, as I do hope elsewhere to describe 
the same. M. de la Noue failed not to appear, to which 
end M. d'Estrozze was given as an hostage on the town, 
and truce was made for that day and for the next fol- 

This truce once concluded, there did appear immedi- 
ately, as on our side we too did show us outside our 
trenches, many of the towns-folk on the ramparts and 
walls. And notable over all were seen an hundred or so 
of noble ladies and citizens' wives and daughters, the 
greatest, richest and fairest of all the town, all clad in 
white, the dress, which did cover head as well as body, 
being all of fine white Holland linen, that 'twas a very 
fair sight to see. And they had adopted this dress by 
reason of the fortification of the ramparts at which they 
were at work, whether carrying of the earth-baskets or 
moving the soil. Now other garments would have soon 
grown foul, but these white ones had but to be sent to the 
wash, and all was well again; beside, with this white cos- 
tume were they more readily distinguished among the 
rest. For our part we were much delighted to behold these 
fair ladies, and I do assure you many of us did find more 
divertisement herein than in aught else. Nor were they 
the least chary of giving us a sight of them, for they did 
line the edge of the rampart, standing in a most gracious 
and agreeable attitude, so as they were well worth our 
looking at and longing after. 

We were right curious to learn what ladies they were. 
The towns-folk did inform us they were a company of 
ladies so sworn and banded together, and so attired for 




the work at the fortifications and for the performing 
of suchlike services to their native city. And of a truth 
did they do good service, even to the more virile and stal- 
wart of them bearing arms. Yea! I have heard it told 
of one, how, for having oft repulsed her foes with a pike, 
she doth to this day keep the same carefully as 'twere a 
sacred relic, so that she would not part with it nor sell 
it for much money, so dear a home treasure doth she 
hold it. 

I have heard the tale told by sundry old Knights Com- 
manders of Rhodes, and have even read the same in an 
old book, how that, when Rhodes was besieged by Sultan 
Soliman, the fair dames and damsels of that place did in 
no wise spare their fair faces and tender and delicate 
bodies, for to bear their full share of the hardships and 
fatigues of the siege, but would even come forward many 
a time at the most hot and dangerous attacks, and gal- 
lantly second the knights and soldiery to bear up against 
the same. Ah! fair Rhodian maids, your name and fame 
is for all time; and ill did you deserve to be now fallen 
under the rule of infidel barbarians ! In the reign of our 
good King Francis I., the town of Saint-Riquier in 
Picardy was attempted and assailed by a Flemish gen- 
tleman, named Domrin, Ensign of M. du Ru, accompanied 
by two hundred men at arms and two thousand foot folk, 
beside some artillery. Inside the place were but an hun- 
dred foot men, the which was far too few for defence. 
It had for sure been captured, but that the women of the 
town did appear on the walls with arms in hand, boiling 
water and oil and stones, and did gallantly repulse the 
foe, albeit these did exert every effort to gain an entry. 
Furthermore two of the said brave ladies did wrest a pair 





of standards from the hands of the enemy, and bore them 
from the walls into the town, the end of all being that the 
besiegers were constrained to abandon the breach they 
had made and the walls altogether, and make off and re- 
tire. The fame of this exploit did spread through all 
France, Flanders and Burgundy; while King Francis, 
passing by the place some time after, was fain to see the 
women concerned, and did praise and thank them for 
their deed. 

The ladies of Peronne 3 did in like gallant wise, when 
that town was besieged by the Comte de Nassau, and did 
aid the brave soldiers which were in the place in the same 
fashion as their sisters of Saint-Riquier, for which they 
were esteemed, commended and thanked of their sover- 

The women of Sancerre * again, in the late civil wars 
and during the siege of their town, were admired and 
praised for the noble deeds they did at that time in all 

Also, during the War of the League, the dames of 
Vitre 6 did acquit them right well in similar wise at the 
besieging of the town by M. de Mercueur. The women 
there be very fair and always right daintily put on, and 
have ever been so from old time; yet did they not spare 
their beauty for to show themselves manlike and 
courageous. And surely all manly and brave-hearted 
deeds, at such a time of need, are as highly to be esteemed 
in women as in men. 

Of the same gallant sort were of yore the women of 
Carthage, who whenas they beheld their husbands, broth- 
ers, kinsfolk and the soldiery generally cease shooting at 
the foe, for lack of strings to their bows, these being all 




worn out by dint of shooting all through the long and 
terrible siege, and for the same cause no longer being 
able to provide them with hemp, or flax, or silk, or aught 
else wherewithal to make bow-strings, did resolve to cut 
off their lovely tresses and fair, yellow locks, not sparing 
this beauteous honour of their heads and chief adorn- 
ment of their beauty. Nay! with their own fair hands, 
so white and delicate, they did twist and wind the same 
and make it into bow-strings to supply the men of war. 
And I leave you to imagine with what high courage and 
mettle these would now stretch and bend their bows, shoot 
their arrows and fight the foe, bearing as they did such 
fine favours of the ladies. 

We read in the History of Naples 6 how that great 
Captain Sforza, serving under the orders of Queen 
Jeanne II., having been taken prisoner by the Queen's 
husband, James, and set in strict confinement and hav- 
ing some taste of the strappado, would without a doubt 
ere much longer have had his head cut off, but that his 
sister did fly to arms and straight take the field. She 
made so good a fight, she in her own person, as that she 
did capture four of the chiefest Neapolitan gentlemen, 
and this done, sent to tell the King that whatsoever treat- 
ment he should deal to her brother, the same would she 
meet out to his friends. The end was, he was constrained 
to make peace and deliver him up safe and sound. Ah ! 
brave and gallant-hearted sister, rising so superior to her 
sex's weakness ! 

I do know of certain sisters and kinswomen, who if but 
they had dared a like deed, some while agone, might may- 
hap have saved alive a gallant brother of theirs, which 





was undone for lack of help and timely succour of the 


OW am I fain to have done with the considera- 
tion of these warlike and great-hearted dames 
in general, and to speak of some particular 
instances of the same. And as the fairest 
example Antiquity hath to show us, I will adduce the 
gallant Zenobia * only, to answer for all. This Queen, 
after the death of her husband, was too wise to waste 
her time, like so many others in like case, in mere lamen- 
tation and vain regrets, but did grasp the reins of his 
empire in the name of her children, and make war against 
the Romans and their Emperor Aurelian, 2 at that time 
reigning at Rome. Much trouble did she give these foes 
for eight long years, till at the last coming to a pitched 
battle with his legions, she was vanquished therein and 
taken prisoner and brought before the Emperor. On his 
asking her how she had had the hardihood to make war 
against the Emperors of Rome, she did answer only this : 
"Verily ! I do well recognise that you are Emperor, seeing 
that you have vanquished me." 

So great content had he of his victory, and so proud 
thereof was he and exalted, that he was fain to hold a 
triumph over her. So with an exceeding great pomp and 
magnificence did she walk before his triumphal car, right 
gorgeously put on and adorned with much wealth of 
pearls and precious stones, superb jewels and great 
chains of gold, wherewith she was bound about the body 
and by the hands and feet, in sign of being captive and 





slave of her conqueror. And so it was that by reason 
of the heavy weight of her jewels and chains she was con- 
strained to make sundry pauses and to rest her again and 
again on this march of triumph. A fine thing, of a 
surety, and an admirable, that all vanquished and pris- 
oner as she was, she could yet give the law to her triumph- 
ant conqueror, and thus make him tarry and wait her 
pleasure till that she had recovered breath! A great in- 
stance too of good feeling and honest courtesy on the 
part of the Emperor, so to allow her breathing space 
and rest, and to suffer her weakness, rather than unduly 
to constrain or press her to hurry more than she well 
could. So that one doth scarce know which to commend 
the more, the honourable courtesy of the Emperor, or the 
Queen's way of acting, who it may well be, did play 
this part of set purpose, not so much forced thereta 
by her actual weakness of body and weariness, as for to 
make some show of pride and prove to all how she would 
and could gather this little sprig of respect in the eve- 
ning of her fortunes no less than she had done in the 
morning-tide of the same, and let them see how the Em- 
peror did grant her this much privilege, to wait on her 
slow steps and lingering progress. 

Much was the Queen gazed at and admired by men and 
women alike, not a few of which last had been but too 
glad to resemble so fair an apparition. For truly she 
was one of the most lovely of women, by what is said 
of the historians of these events. She was of a very fine, 
tall and opulent figure, say they, her carriage right noble, 
and her grace and dignity to match; furthermore her 
face very beautiful and exceeding pleasing, her eyes dark 
and piercing. Beside her other beauties, these writers do 





give her fine and very white teeth, a keen wit and a 
modest bearing, a sincere and at need a kind and merciful 
heart. Her speech was eloquent and spoke with a fine 
clear voice ; moreover she was used always to express her 
ideas and wishes herself to her soldiers, and would many a 
time harangue the same publicly. 

I ween he did so show her to best advantage, thus 
richly and gracefully attired in women's weeds, no less 
than when she was armed in all points as the Warrior 
Queen. For sex doth always count for much ; and we may 
rightly suppose the Emperor was fain to display her at 
his triumph only under guise of her own fair sex, wherein 
she would seem most beauteous and agreeable to the pop- 
ulace in all the perfection of her charms. Furthermore, 
His to be supposed, so lovely as she was, the Emperor 
had tasted and enjoyed her loveliness, and was yet in the 
enjoyment thereof. So albeit he had vanquished her in 
one fashion, yet had she, or he, if you prefer it so, for 
the two be as one in this, won the victory in another. 

Mine own wonder is, that seeing the said Zenobia was 
so beautiful, the Emperor did not take her and keep 
her for one of his mistresses ; or else that she did not 
open and establish by his permission, or the Senate's, a 
shop or market of love and harlotry, as did the fair 
Flora in the same city, for to win wealth and store up 
much gear and goods, by the toil of her body and shaking 
of her bed. For to such a market had surely resorted 
all the greatest men of Rome, one vying with other in 
eagerness ; seeing there is no contentment 'twould seem, or 
satisfaction in all the world like that of a man's taking his 
will of a Royal or Princely person, and enjoying of a fair 
Queen, or Princess or a high-born Lady. As to this I 





do appeal to such men as have embarked on these voyages, 
and made such good traffic there. Now in this fashion 
would Queen Zenobia have soon grown rich out of the 
purse of these great folks, as did Flora, which did receive 
no others in her place of commerce. Had it not been far 
better for her to make of her life a scene of merry-making 
and magnificence, of money getting and compliments, 
than to have fallen into that need and extremity of pov- 
erty she did come to? For she was constrained to gain 
her bread a-spinning among common work-women, and 
would have died of hunger, but that the Senate, taking 
pity of her in view of her former greatness, did decree 
her a pension for her maintenance, and some trifling 
lands and possessions, which were for long after known 
as "Zenobia's Lands." For indeed and indeed is poverty 
a sore evil; and whosoever can avoid the same, no matter 
what transformation be taken to that end, doth well and 
right, as one I wot of was used to declare. 

Thus we see how Zenobia did not carry her high cour- 
age to the end of her career, as she should, and as folk 
should ever persist in every course of action to the last. 
'Tis said she had had a triumphal car constructed, the 
most magnificent ever seen in Rome, to the end she might, 
as she was often used to say in her days of high pros- 
perity and glorying, hold triumph therein at Rome. For 
her ambition was to conquer and subdue the Roman Em- 
pire! Alas! for her presumption; for it did all fall out 
quite otherwise, and the Emperor having won the day, 
did take her car for himself, and use it in his own triumph, 
while she did march a-foot, and did make as much triumph 
and ceremonial over her as if he had vanquished a 
puissant King, and more. Yet be sure, a victory won 




over a woman, be it gained how it may, is no very great 
or famous exploit! 

After a like fashion did Augustus long to triumph 
over Cleopatra; but he got no success in this. She did 
forestall him in good time, and in the same way which 
Aemilius Paulus did signify in what he said to Perseus, 8 
when in his captivity he did beseech him to have pity on 
him, answering him he should have seen to that before- 
hand, meaning that he ought to have killed himself. 

I have heard say that our late King Henri II. did 
long for no other thing so sore as to be able to take 
prisoner the Queen of Hungary, and this not to treat her 
ill, albeit she had given him many causes of offence by her 
devastations of his territory, but only to have the glory 
of holding this great Princess captive, and to see what 
bearing and countenance she would show in her prison, 
and if she would then be so gallant and proud-spirited 
as at the head of her armies. For in truth there is 
naught else so fine and gallant as such a fair, brave and 
high-born lady, when she hath will and courage as had 
this same Princess, which did much delight in the name 
the Spanish soldiers had given her; for just as they did 
call her brother the Emperor el padre de los soldados, 
"the father of the soldiers," so did they entitle her 
la madre, "the mother," of the same. So in old days, 
in the times of the Romans, was Victoria or Victorina 
known in her armies by the name of "the mother of the 
camp." Of a surety, an if a great and beautiful lady 
do undertake an exploit of war, she doth contribute much 
to its success and giveth much encouragement and spirit 
to her folk, as myself have seen in the case of our own 
Queen Mother, Catherine de Medici, which did often visit 




our armies, and so doing did greatly animate their 
courage and rouse their ardour. The same is done at 
this present by her grand-daughter, the Infanta 4 in 
Flanders, which doth take the lead of her army, and 
show herself a valorous chief of her fighting men, so 
much so that without her and her noble and delightful 
presence, Flanders could never have been retained, as 
all men allow. And never did even the Queen of Hungary 
herself, her grand-aunt, make so fair a show of beauty, 
valour, great-heartedness and graceful bearing. 

In our histories of France we do read of how much 
avail was the presence of the noble-hearted Comtesse de 
Montfort, 6 when shut up and besieged in Hennebon. For 
albeit her men were brave and valiant, and had quit them- 
selves in battle and withstood the enemy's assaults as well 
as ever any folk could, yet did they at the last begin to 
lose heart and talk of surrendering. But she did harangue 
them so eloquently, and did re-animate their cour- 
age with such good and intrepid words, inspiriting them so 
finely and so well, as that they did hold out till the 
succour, so long and eagerly desired, did arrive, and the 
siege was raised. Nay! she did better still; for whenas 
the enemy were set on the attack and were all busied 
therewith, seeing their tents to be all left empty and 
unprotected, she did make a sally, mounted on a good 
horse and with fifty good horses to follow her. In this 
wise doth she surprise the camp and set it a-fire, the 
result being that Charles de Blois, deeming himself to be 
betrayed, did straight abandon the assault. On this sub- 
ject, I will add yet another little tale: 

During the late Wars of the League, the Prince de 
Conde, since deceased, being at Saint-Jean, did send to 





demand of Madame de Bourdeille, 6 then a widow of the 
age of forty, and a very handsome woman, six or seven 
of the wealthiest tenants of her estate, the which had 
taken refuge in her castle of Mathas at her side. She did 
refuse him outright, declaring she would never betray 
nor give up these unhappy folk, who had put themselves 
under her protection and trusted to her honour for their 
safety. On this he did summon her for the last time, 
informing her that unless she would deliver them up to 
him, he would teach her better obedience. She did make 
reply to this (for myself was with her by way of render- 
ing help) that, seeing he knew not himself how to obey, 
she did find it very strange he should wish to make others 
do so, and that so soon as he should have obeyed his 
King's orders, she would obey him. For the rest, she did 
declare that for all his threats, she was afraid neither 
of his cannon nor of his siege, and how that she was 
descended from the far-famed Comtesse de Montfort, 
from whom her folk had inherited the place, and herself 
too, and therewith some share of her gallantry. Further 
that she was determined to defend the same so well as 
that he should never take it, and that she should win no 
less fame herein than her ancestress, the aforesaid Coun- 
tess, had done at Hennebon. The Prince did ponder long 
over this reply, and did delay some days' space, without 
further threatening her. Yet, had he not presently died, 
he would assuredly have laid siege to her castle; but in 
that case was she right well prepared in heart, resolution, 
men and gear, to receive him warmly, and I do think he 
would have gotten a shameful rebuff. 

Machiavelli, in his book On the Art of War, doth 
relate how that Catherine, Countess of Forli, was be- 


....... . . . . * ......... . . . : 


sieged in that her good town fortress by Caesar Borgia, 
aided by the French army, which did make a most gallant 
resistance to him, yet at the last was taken. The cause 
of its loss was this, that the said strong town was over 
full of fortresses and strongholds, for folk to retire from 
the one to the other ; so much so that Borgia having made 
his approaches, the Signer Giovanni de Casale (whom the 
said Countess had chose for her helper and protector), 
did abandon the breach to withdraw into his strongholds. 
Through the which error, Borgia did force an entrance 
and took the place. And so, saith the author, these 
errors did much wrong the high-hearted courage and re- 
pute of the said gallant Countess, which had withstood 
an army the King of Naples and the Duke of Milan had 
not dared to face; and albeit the issue was unfortunate, 
yet did she win the honour she so well deserved, and for 
this exploit many rhymes and verses were writ in Italy 
in her honour. This passage is one well worthy the at- 
tention of all such as have to do with the fortifying of 
places of strength, and do set them to build therein great 
numbers of castles, strongholds, fortresses and citadels. 
To return to our proper subject, we have had in times 
past many Princesses and high-born ladies in this our 
land of France, which have given excellent marks of their 
prowess. As did Paule, daughter of the Comte de Penth- 
ievre, who was besieged in Roye by the Comte de Charo- 
lais, and did there show herself so gallant and great- 
hearted as that, on the town being taken, the Count did 
grant her very good conditions, and had her conducted 
in safety to Compiegne, not suffering any hurt to be done 
her. So greatly did he honour her for her valour, and 
this albeit he felt deep resentment against her husband, 





whom he held guilty of having tried to work his death 
by black arts and sundry evil devices of images and 

Richilda, 7 only daughter and heiress of Mons in Hai- 
nault, and wife of Baldwyn the Sixth, Count of Flanders, 
did make all efforts against Robert the Frisian, her 
brother-in-law, appointed guardian of the children of 
Flanders, for to take away from him the duty and ad- 
ministration of the same, and have it assigned to herself. 
To which end she did take up arms with the help of 
Philip, King of France, and hazarded two battles 8 against 
Count Robert. In the first she was taken prisoner, as 
was likewise her foe, the said Count Robert, but after- 
ward were the twain given back in exchange one of the 
other. A second battle followed, which she lost, her son 
Arnulphe being slain therein, and was driven back to 

Ysabel of France, daughter of King Philippe le Bel, 
and wife of Edward II. 9 of England, and Duke of 
Guienne, was ill looked on of the King her husband, 
through the intrigues of Hugh le Despenser, whereby she 
was constrained to withdraw to France with her son 
Edward. Afterward she did return to England with the 
Chevalier de Hainault, her kinsman, and an army which 
she did lead thither, and by means of which she did pres- 
ently take her husband prisoner. Him she did deliver 
up into the hands of men which did soon bring about his 
death ; a fate that overtook herself likewise, for by reason 
of her loves with a certain Lord Mortimer, she was con- 
fined by her own son in a castle, and there ended her 
days. She it was that did afford the English pretext 
to quarrel with France to the sore hurt of the same. 



Yet surely we have here a piece of base ingratitude on 
her son's part, who all forgetful of great benefit received, 
did so cruelly treat his mother for so small a fault. 
Small I call it, for that 'twas but natural, and an easy 
thing, that after dealing long with men of arms, and 
grown so accustomed to go in manly guise with them amid 
armies and tents and camps, she should do the like also 

This is a thing oft times seen to happen. For example 
I do refer me to our Queen Leonor, Duchess of Guienne, 
which did accompany her husband over seas and to the 
Holy Wars. By dint of much frequenting of men at 
arms and troopers and such folk, she did come to dero- 
gate very gravely from her honour, so far as that she 
did have dealings even with the Saracens. For the which 
the King her husband did put her away, a thing that 
cost us very dear. We can but suppose she was fain to 
try whether these worthy foes were as gallant champions 
in a lady's chamber as in the open field, and that mayhap 
'twas her humour to ever love valiant wights, and that 
one valiance doth ever attract another, as virtue doth 
to virtue. For verily he saith most true, which doth 
declare virtue to be like the lightning, that pierceth 
through all things. 

The said Queen Leonor was not the only lady which 
did accompany her husband to these same Holy Wars. 
But both before her day, and with her, and after her, no 
few other Princesses and great ladies did along with their 
lords take the cross, not that they did therefore cross 
their legs, but did rather open these and stretch them 
right wide, in such wise that while some did remain there 
for good and all, others came back from the wars most 





finished harlots. So under pretext of visiting the Holy 
Sepulchre, amid all that press of arms they did much 
amorous wantoning; for verily, as I have observed afore, 
arms and love do well accord together, so close and con- 
gruous is the sympathy betwixt these twain. 

Suchlike dames ought surely to be esteemed, loved and 
treated like men, not as the Amazons did of old, which 
proclaiming themselves daughters of Mars, did rid them 
of their husbands, pretending marriage was sheer slavery ; 
yet desire enough and to spare had they to go with other 
men, for to have daughters of them, but killing all the 
male children. 

Jo. Nauclerus, in his Cosmography, relates how, in the 
year of Christ 1123, after the death of Tibussa, Queen 
of the Bohemians, she who did first close in the town of 
Prague with walls, and who did very greatly abhor the 
power and domination of men, there was one of her dam- 
sels, by name Valasca, which did so well gain over the . 
maids and matrons of that land by her fair and alluring 
promises of liberty, and did so thoroughly disgust and 
set them against their servitude to manfolk, as that they 
did slay each her man, one her husband, another her 
brother, another her kinsman or next neighbour, and so 
in less than no time were mistresses of the realm. Then 
having taken their husbands' harness of war, they did 
make such good use thereof, and grew so valiant and 
skilled in arms, fighting after the Amazon fashion, as 
that they soon gat them several victories. Yet were they 
presently, by the conduct and cunning wiles of one Primis- 
laus, husband of Tibussa, a man she had raised up from 
low and humble state, routed entirely and put to death. 
This was sure God Almighty's vengeance for so heinous 





an act and dread attempt, no less indeed than to destroy 
the human race itself. 


HITS did these Amazonian dames find no other 
fashion of showing forth their gallant spirit 
for fine, bold and manly exploits but only 
by these cruel deeds we have named. On the 
contrary, how many Empresses, Queens, Princesses and 
other high-born Ladies, have done the like by means of 
noble acts, both in the governance and management of 
their dominions, and in other excellent ways, whereof the 
Histories be so full that I need not recount the same. 
For the desire of holding sway, of reigning and ruling, 
doth lodge within women's breasts no less than in men's, 
and they be just as eager after domination as the other 

Well! now I am about to speak of one that was un- 
sullied of this ambition, to wit Vittoria Colonna, 1 wife of 
the Marquis de Pescaire. I have read of this lady in a 
Spanish book, how that whenas the said Marquis did 
hearken to the fine offers made him by Hieronimo Mouron 
on the Pope's behalf (as I have said in a previous pas- 
sage) of the Kingdom of Naples, if only he would enter 
into the league with him, she being informed of the matter 
by her husband himself, who did never hide aught from 
her of his privy affairs, neither small nor great, did write 
to him (for she had an excellent gift of language), and 
bade him remember his ancient valour and virtue, the 
which had given him such glory and high repute, as that 
these did exceed the fame and fortune of the greatest 




Kings of the earth. She then went on : non con grandeza 
de los reynos, de Estados ny de hermosos titulos, sino 
con f ttlustre y clara virtud, se alcancava la honra, la 
qual con loor siempre vivo, legava a los descendientes ; y 
que no havia ningun grado tan alto que no fuese vencido 
de una trahicion y mala fe. Que por esto, ningun deseo 
tenia de ser muger de rey, queriendo antes ser muger de 
tal capitan, que no solamente en guerra con valorosa 
mono, mas en paz con gran honra de animo no vencido, 
havia sabido veneer reyes, y grandissimos prncipes, y 
capitanes, y darlos a triunfos, y imperiarlos, "not by 
the greatness of Kingdoms and of vast Dominions, nor 
yet of high and sounding titles, but by fair faith and 
unsullied virtue, is honour won, the virtue that with 
ever living praise doth go down to all descendants. And 
there is never a rank so exalted but it were undone and 
spoiled by treason wrought and good faith broke. For 
such a prize she had no wish to be a King's wife, but had 
rather be a simple Captain's such as he, which not alone 
in war by his valiant arm, but in peace likewise with the 
honour of an unbroken spirit, had been strong to vanquish 
Kings, great Princes and mighty Captains, to triumph 
over the same and master them." High courage and 
virtue and truth did all mark this lady's words ; for truly 
to reign by ill faith is a very evil and sorry thing, but 
to give the law to Kings and kingdoms by honesty and 
worth a right noble one. 

Fulvia, wife of Publius Clodius, and in second wedlock 
that of Mark Antony, finding but small amusement in 
her household tasks, did set herself to higher business, 
to manage affairs of State that is, till she did win herself 
the repute of ruling the Rulers of Rome. And indeed 




Cleopatra did owe her some gratitude and obligation for 
having so well trained and disciplined Mark Antony to 
obey and bend him under the laws of submission. 

We read moreover of that great French Prince Charles 
Martel, which in his day would never take nor bear the 
title of King, as 'twas within his power to do, but liked 
better to govern Kings and give orders to the same. 

However let us speak of some of our own country- 
women. We had, in our War of the League, Madame de 
Montpensier, sister of the late Due de Guise, who was a 
great Stateswoman, and did contribute much, as well by 
the subtile inventions of her fine spirit as by the labour of 
her hands, to build up the said league. And after the 
same had been now well established, playing one day at 
cards (for she doth well love this pastime) and taking 
the first deal, on their telling her she should well shuffle 
the cards, she did answer before all the company : "I have 
shuffled the cards so well, as that they could not be 
better shuffled or combined together." This would all 
have turned out well, if only her friends had lived; on 
whose unhappy end however, without losing heart at all 
at such a loss, she did set herself to avenge them. And 
having heard the news when in Paris, she doth not shut 
herself in her chamber to indulge her grief, as most other 
women would have done, but cometh forth of her house 
with her brother's children, and holding these by the 
hand, doth take them up and down the city, making 
public mourning of her bereavement before the citizens, 
rousing the same by her tears and piteous cries and sad 
words which she did utter to all, to take up arms and 
rise in fierce protest, and insult the King's 1 house and 
picture, as we have seen done, and I do hope to relate 





in his life, and deny all fealty to him, swearing rank 
rebellion to his authority, all which did presently result 
in his murder. As to which 'tis well enough known what 
persons, men and women, did counsel the same, and are 
properly guilty thereof. Of a surety no sister's heart, 
losing such brothers, could well digest such deadly venom 
without vengeance of this foul murder. 

I have heard it related how after she had thus put the 
good folk of Paris in so great a state of animosity and 
dissatisfaction, she did set her forth to ask of the Duke 
of Parma his help toward her vengeance. So thither she 
maketh her way, but by such long and heavy stages as 
that her coach horses were left so wearied out and 
foundered, stranded in the mire somewhere in the very 
midst of Picardy, that they could not go another step 
either forward or backward, nor put one foot before 
another. As chance would have it, there did pass that 
way a very honourable gentleman of that countryside, 
which was a Protestant, and who, albeit she was dis- 
guised both as to name and in dress, did recognize her 
well enough. But yet, ignoring all the hurts she had 
wrought against his fellows in religion, and the hatred 
she bare them, with frank and full courtesy, he did thus 
accost her : "Madam, I know you well, and am your most 
humble servant. I find you in ill case, and beg you, an 
if you will, come to my house, which is close at hand, 
to dry your clothes and rest you. I will afford you every 
convenience I can to the very best of my ability. Have 
no fear; for though I be of the reformed faith, which 
you do hate so sore in us, I would fain not leave you 
without offering you a courtesy you do stand much in 
need of." This fair offer she did in no wise refuse, but 




did accept very readily; then after that he had provided 
her with such things as were needful, she doth take the 
road again, he conducting her on her way two leagues, 
though all the while she did keep secret from him the 
purport of her journey. Later on in the course of the 
war, by what I have heard, she did repay her debt to the 
said gentleman by many acts of courtesy done him. 

Many have wondered at her trusting of herself to him, 
being Huguenot as he was. But there ! necessity hath no 
law; and beside, she did see him so honourable seeming, 
and heard him speak so honestly and frankly, that she 
could not but believe him disposed to deal fairly with her. 

As for Madame de Nemours, her mother, who was 
thrown into prison after the murder of her noble son's 
children, there can be little doubt of the despair and 
desolation she was left in by so intolerable a loss; and 
albeit till that day she had ever shown herself of a gentle 
and cold humour, and one that did need good and suf- 
ficient cause to rouse her, she did now spew forth a 
thousand insults against the King, and cast in his teeth 
a thousand curses and execrations, going so far (for 
verily what deed or word could ever match the vehemence 
of such a loss and bitter sorrow?) as always to speak of 
him by no other name but this, that Tyrant. Later, 
being come somewhat to herself, she would say: "Alas! 
what say I, Tyrant? Nay! nay! I will not call him so, 
but a most good and clement King, if only he will kill me 
as he hath killed my children, to take me out of the 
wretchedness wherein I am, and remove me to the blessed- 
ness of God's heaven!" Later again, softening still fur- 
ther her words and bitter cries, and finding some surcease 
of sorrow, she would say naught else but only, "Ah! my 




children! my poor children!" repeating these same 
words over and over again with floods of tears, that 
'twould have melted an heart of stone. Alas! she might 
well lament and deplore them so sore, being so good and 
great hearted, so virtuous and so valorous, as they were, 
but above all the noble Due de Guise, a worthy eldest 
son and true paragon of all valour and true-heartedness. 
Moreover she did love her children so fondly, that one 
day as I was discoursing with a noble lady of the Court 
of the said Madame de Nemours, she told me how that 
Princess was the happiest in all the world, for sundry 
reasons which she did give me, except only in one thing, 
which was that she did love her children over much; for 
that she did love them with such excess of fondness as 
that the common anxiety she had of their safety and the 
fear some ill should happen them, did cloud all her 
happiness, making her to live always in inquietude and 
alarm for their sake. I leave you then, reader, to imagine 
how grievous was the sorrow, bitterness and pain she 
did feel at the death of these twain, and how lively the 
terror for the other, which was away in the neighbour- 
hood of Lyons, as well as for the Duke her husband, 
then a prisoner. For of his imprisonment she had never 
a suspicion, as herself did declare, nor of his death 
neither, as I have said above. 

When she was removed from the Castle of Blois to be 
conveyed to that of Amboise for straiter confinement 
therein, just as she had passed the gate, she did turn 
her round and lifted her head toward the figure of King 
Louis XII. , her grandfather, which is there carven in 
stone above the door, on horseback and with a very 
noble mien and warlike bearing. So she, tarrying there 



... ..... .. . . .. . , wA\s^iyg^JSj$&ws)9ti 

a little space and gazing thereon, said in a loud voice 
before a great number of folk which had come together, 
with a fine bold look which did never desert her: "An if 
he which is there pourtrayed were alive, he would never 
suffer his granddaughter thus to be carried away pris- 
oner, and treated as she is this day." Then with these 
words, she did go on her way, without further remon- 
strance. Understand this, that in her heart she was 
invoking and making appeal to the manes of that her 
great-hearted ancestor, to avenge her of the injustice 
of her imprisonment. Herein she acted precisely as did 
certain of the conspirators for Caesar's death, which as 
they were about to strike their blow, did turn them 
toward the statue of Pompey, and did inwardly invoke 
and make appeal to the shade of his valiant arm, so 
puissant of old, to conduct the emprise they were set on to 
a successful issue. It may well be the invocation of this 
Princess may have something aided and advanced the 
death of the King which had so outraged her. A lady 
of high heart and spirit which doth thus brood over 
vengeance to come is no little to be dreaded. 

I do remember me how, when her late husband, the 
Due de Guise, did get the stroke whereof he died, she 
was at the time in his camp, having come thither some 
days previously to visit the same. So soon as ever he 
did come into his quarters wounded, she did advance to 
meet him as far as the door of his lodging all tearful 
and despairing, and after saluting him, did suddenly 
cry out: "Can it be that the wretch which hath struck 
this blow and he that hath set him on (signifying her 
suspicion of the Admiral de Coligny) should go unpun- 
ished? Oh God! an if thou art just, as thou must needs 




be, avenge this deed ; or else ," but stopping at 

this word, she did not end her sentence, for that her 
noble husband did interrupt her, saying: "Nay! dear 
heart, defy not God. An if 'tis He which hath sent me 
this for ray sins, His will be done, and we should glorify 
him therefor. But an if it come from other, seeing ven- 
geance is His alone, He will surely exact the penalty 
without you." Natheless, when he was dead, did she so 
fiercely follow up her revenge, as that the murderer was 
torn to pieces of four horses, while the supposed author 
of the crime was assassinated after the lapse of some 
years, as I will tell in its proper place. This was due to 
the instruction she did give her son, as myself have seen, 
and the counsel and persuasion she did feed him withal 
from his tenderest years, till at the last final and complete 
vengeance was accomplished. 


|HE counsel and appeal of great-hearted wives 
and loving mothers be of no small avail in 
such matters. As to this, I do remember me 
how, when King Charles IX. was making his 
Royal progress about his Kingdom, and was now at 
Bordeaux, the Baron de Bournazel was put in prison, 
a very brave and honourable gentleman of Gascony, for 
having slain another gentleman of his own neighbourhood, 
named La Tour, and, so 'twas said, by dint of much 
traitorous subtlety. The widow did so eagerly press for 
his punishment, as that care was taken the news should 
reach the King's and Queen's chambers, that they were 
about to cut off the said Baron's head. Hereon did the 




gentlemen and ladies of the Court of a sudden bestir 
themselves, and much effort was made to save his life. 
Twice over were the King and Queen besought to grant 
his pardon. The High Chancellor did set him strongly 
against this, saying justice must needs be done; whereas 
the King was much in favour of mercy, for that he was 
a young man, and asked for naught better than to save 
his life, as he was one of the gallants frequenting the 
Court, and M. de Cipierre 1 was keen in urging the same 
course. Yet was the hour of execution now drawing nigh, 
without aught being done, to the astonishment of every- 

Hereupon did M. de Nemours intervene, which loved 
the unhappy Baron, who had followed him gallantly on 
sundry fields of battle. The Duke went and threw him- 
self at the Queen's feet, and did earnestly beseech her 
to give the poor gentleman his life, begging and pray- 
ing so hard and pressing her so with his words as that 
the favour was e'en given him at the last. Then on the 
instant was sent a Captain of the Guard, which went and 
sought the man out and took him from the prison, just 
as he was being led forth to his doom. Thus was he 
saved, but in such fearful circumstances that a look of 
terror did remain ever after imprinted on his features, 
and he could never thereafter regain his colour, as myself 
have seen. I have heard tell how the same thing did 
happen to M. de Saint-Vallier, which did have a fine 
escape by the interest of M. de Bourbon. 

Meantime however the widow was not idle, but did 
come next day to intercept the King as he was going to 
Mass, and did throw herself at his feet. She did present 
him her son, which might be three or four years old, 





saying thus : "At the least, Sire, as you have given pardon 
to this child's murderer, I do beseech you grant the same 
to him now at this moment, for the time when he shall 
be grown up and shall have taken his vengeance and 
slain that wretch." And from that time onward, by what 
I have heard said, the mother would come every morning 
to awake her child; and showing him the bloody shirt his 
father had on when he was killed, would repeat to him 
three times over: "Mark this token, well, and bear well 
in mind, when you be grown up, to avenge this wrong; 
else do I disinherit you." A bitter spirit of revenge 
truly ! 

Myself when I was in Spain, did hear the tale how 
Antonio Roques, one of the most brave and valiant, cun- 
ning, cautious and skilful, famous and withal most cour- 
teous, bandits ever was in all Spain ('tis a matter of 
common knowledge), did in his early years desire to enter 
religion and be ordained priest. But the day being now 
come when he was to sing his first mass, just as he was 
coming forth from the vestry and was stepping with great 
ceremony toward the High Altar of his parish Church 
duly robed and accoutred to do his office, and chalice in 
hand, he did hear his mother saying to him as he passed 
her : Ah! vellaco, vellaco, mejor seria de vengar la muerte 
de tu padre, que de cantar misa, "Ah ! wretch and mis- 
creant that you are! 'twere better far to avenge your 
father's death than to be singing Mass." This word did 
so touch him at heart, as that he doth coldly turn him 
about in mid progress, and back to the vestry, where he 
doth unrobe him, pretending his heart had failed him 
from indisposition, and that it should be for another 
time. Then off to the mountains to join the brigands, 




among whom he doth presently win such esteem and re- 
nown that he was chose their chief; there he doth many 
crimes and thefts, and avengeth his father's death, which 
had been killed, some said, of a comrade, though others 
declared him a victim of the King's justice. This tale 
was told me by one that was a bandit himself, and had 
been under his orders in former days. This man did be- 
praise him to the third heaven ; and true it is the Emperor 
Charles could never do him any hurt. 

But to return once more to Madame de Nemours, the 
King did keep her in prison scarce any time, whereof was 
M. d'Escars in part the cause. He did soon release her, 
for to send her on a mission to the Dues du Maine and 
de Nemours, and other Princes members of the League, 
bearing to all words of peace and oblivion of all past 
grievances : dead men were dead, and there an end ; best 
be good friends as aforetime. In fact, the King did take 
an oath of her, that she would faithfully perform this 
said embassy. Accordingly on her arrival, at first accost 
'twas naught but tears and lamentations and regrets for 
all their losses; then anon did she make report of her 
instructions, whereto M. du Maine did reply, asking her 
if this were her own advice. She answered simply: "I 
have not come hither, my son, to advise you, but only to 
repeat to you the message I am charged withal and bidden 
give you. 'Tis for you to think whether you have suf- 
ficient cause to do so, and if your duty points that way. 
As to what I tell you, your heart and your conscience 
should give you the best advice. For myself, I do but 
discharge a commission I have promised to fulfil." Nathe- 
less, under the rose, she knew well enough how to stir the 
fire, which did long burn so fierce. 




Many folks have wondered greatly, how the King, that 
was so wise and one of the most adroit men of his King- 
dom, came to employ this lady for such an office, having 
so sorely injured her that she could have had neither 
heart nor feeling if she had taken therein the very least 
pains in the world ; but there, she did simply make mock 
of him and his instructions. Report said at the time this 
was the fine advice of the Marechal de Retz, who did give 
a like piece of counsel to King Charles, namely to send 
M. de la Noue into the town of La Rochelle, for to per- 
suade the inhabitants to peace and their proper duty and 
allegiance. The better to accredit him to them, he did 
permit him to play the eager partisan on their side and 
on his own, to fight desperately for them, and give them 
counsel and advice against the King, but all under this 
condition that when his services should be claimed by the 
King or the King's brother, which was his Lieutenant 
General, and he ordered to leave the place, he would 
obey. This he did and all else, making fierce enough 
war, and finally quitting the place; yet meanwhile he did 
so confirm his folk and sharpen their spirit, and did give 
them such excellent lessons and so greatly encouraged 
them, as that for that time they did cut our beards to 
rights for us. Many would have it, there was no subtlety 
in all this ; but I did see it all with mine own eyes, and I 
do hope to give full account of these doings elsewhere. 
At any rate this was all the said Marechal did avail his 
King and country; one that 'twere more natural surely 
to hold a charlatan and swindler than a good counsellor 
and a Marshal of France. 

I will tell one other little word of the aforesaid Duchesse 
de Nemours. I have heard it said that at the time they 





were framing the famous League, and she would be exam- 
ining the papers and the lists of the towns which did 
join it, not yet seeing Paris figuring therein, she would 
ever say to her son : "All this is naught, my son ; we must 
have Paris to boot. If you have not Paris, you have 
done naught; wherefore, ho! for Paris city." And never 
a word but Paris, Paris, was always in her mouth; and 
the end of it all was the barricades that were seen after- 


JN this we see how a brave heart doth ever fly at 
the highest game. And this doth again remind 
me of a little tale I have read in a Spanish Ro- 
mance called la Conquista de Navarra, "The 
Conquest of Navarre." a This Kingdom having been taken 
and usurped from King John of Navarre by the King of 
Aragon, Louis XII. did send an army under M. de la 
Palice to win it back. Our King did send word to the 
Queen, Donna Catherine, by M. de la Palice which did 
bring her the news, that she should come to the Court 
of France and there tarry with his Queen Anne, while 
that the King, her husband, along with M de la Palice 
was making essay to recover the Kingdom. The Queen 
did make him this gallant answer: "How now, Sir! I 
did suppose the King your master had sent you hither 
for to carry me with you to my Kingdom and set me again 
at Pampeluna, and for me to accompany you thither, as 
my mind was made up to do and my preparations made. 
Yet now you bid me go stay at the Court of France? 
Truly a poor hope and ill augury for me! I see plainly 



I shall never set foot in mine own land again." And even 
as she did presage, the thing fell out. 

It was told and commanded the Duchess de Valentinois, 
on the approach of the death of King Henri II., when his 
health was now despaired of, to retire to her mansion in 
Paris, and go no more into his chamber, to the end she 
might not disturb him in his pious meditations, and no 
less on account of the hostility certain did bear her. Then 
when she had so withdrawn, they did send to her again to 
demand sundry rings and jewels, which did belong to the 
Crown and which she must give back. At this she did 
on a sudden ask the worthy spokesman: "Why! is the 
King dead then?" "No! Madam," replied the other, "but 
it can scarce be long first." "As long as there is one 
breath of life left in his body, I would have my enemies 
to know I fear them not a whit, and that I will never 
obey them, so long as he shall be alive. My courage is 
still invincible. But when he is dead, I care not to live 
on after him, and all the vexations you could inflict on 
me would be but kindness compared with the bitterness 
of my loss. So, whether my King be quick or dead, I fear 
not mine enemies at all." 

Herein did this fair lady show great spirit, and a true 
heart. Yet she did not die, 'twill be objected of some, as 
she did say she would. True ! yet did she not fail to ex- 
perience some threatenings of death ; beside, she did better 
to choose rather to live than to die, for to show her 
enemies she was no wise afeared of them. Having erst 
seen them shake and tremble before her, she would fain 
escape doing the same before them, and did wish to show 
so good a face and confident look to them as that they 
never durst do her any displeasure. Nay ! more than this ; 



within two years' space they did seek to her more than 
ever, and renewed their friendship with her, as I did 
myself see. And this is the way with great lords and 
ladies, which have little solid continuance in their friend- 
ships, and in their differences do readily make it up 
again, like thieves at a fair, and the same with all their 
loves and hatreds. This we smaller folks do never do ; for 
either we must needs fight, avenge and die, or else make up 
the quarrel by way of punctilious, minutely ordered and 
carefully arranged terms of agreement. So in this we do 
play the better part. 

We cannot but admire this lady's conduct and be- 
haviour; and truly these high-born dames which have 
to do with affairs of State, do commonly act in a grander 
way than the ordinary run of women. And this is why 
our late King Henri III., last deceased, and the Queen, 
his mother, did by no means love such ladies of their Court 
as did much trouble their wits with matters of State and 
put their nose therein and did concern them to speak of 
other matters near touching the government of the King- 
dom. 'Twas as if, their Majesties were used to declare, 
they had some great part therein and might be heirs of the 
same, or just as if they had given the sweat of their bodies 
and force of their hands to its management and mainte- 
nance, like men; whereas, for a mere pastime, talking at 
the fireside, sitting comfortably in their chairs or lying on 
their pillows, or their daybeds, they would discourse at 
their ease of the world at large and the state of the 
Country, as if they did arrange it all. On this point a 
certain great lady of fashion, whom I will not name, did 
one time make a shrewd reply, who taking on her to say 
out all her say on occasion of the first meeting of the 




Estates at Blois, their Majesties did cause a slight repri- 
mand to be given her, telling her she should attend to 
the affairs of her own house and her prayers to God. 
To this being something too free in her speech, she did 
answer thus: "In days of yore when Princes, Kings and 
great Lords did take the cross and hie them over-seas, to 
do so noble exploits in the Holy Land, insooth 'twas al- 
lowed us women only to fast and pray, make orisons and 
vows, that God might give them a successful journey and 
a safe return. But nowadays that we do see them do 
naught better than ourselves, 'tis surely allowed us to 
speak of all matters ; for as to praying God for them, 
why should we do so, seeing they do no more heroic deeds 
than ourselves?" 

This speech was for sure too bold and outspoken, and 
indeed it came very nigh to costing her dear. She had all 
the difficulty in the world to win pardon and excuse, which 
she had to ask for right humbly ; and had it not been for 
a certain private reason I could tell, and if I would, she 
had received dire pains and penalties therefor, and very 
signal punishment. 

Tis not always well to speak out a sharp saying such 
as this, when it cometh to the lips. Myself have seen not 
a few folk which could in no wise govern their wit in this 
sort, but were more untamed than a Barbary charger. 
Finding a good shrewd gibe in their mouth, out they must 
spit it, without sparing relations, friends or superiors. 
Many such I have known at our own Court of France, 
where they were well called Marquis et Marquises de bette- 
bouche, "Lords and Ladies of Frank Speech;" but many 
and many a time did their frank speech bring them in sore 




|AVING thus described the brave and gallant 
bearing of sundry ladies on sundry noble 
occasions of their life, I am fain now to give 
some examples of the like high qualities dis- 
played at their death. Without borrowing any instance 
of Antiquity, I will merely adduce that of the late de- 
ceased Queen Regent 1 mother of our noble King Francis 
I. In her day this Princess, as I have heard many of 
mine acquaintance say, both men and women, was a very 
fair lady, and very gay and gallant to boot, which she 
did continue to be even in her declining years. And for 
this cause, when folk did talk to her of death, she 
did exceedingly mislike such discourse, not excepting 
preachers which did hold forth on this subject in their 
sermons. "As if," she would cry, "we did not all of us 
know well enough we must one day die. The fact is, 
these preachers, whenas they can find naught further to 
say in their sermons, and be at the end of their powers 
of invention, like other simple folk, do take refuge in this 
theme of death." The late Queen of Navarre, her daugh- 
ter, did no less than her mother detest these same harp- 
ings on death and sermonizings on mortality. 

Well, being now come near her fated end, and lying 
on her deathbed, three days before that event, she did 
see her chamber at night all lit up by a brilliant gleam 
shining in through the window. She did hereupon chide 
her bedchamber women, which were sitting up with her, 
asking them for why they did make so big and bright 
a fire. But they did answer, that there was but a small 




fire burning, and that 'twas the moon which did shine 
so bright and cause the illumination. "Why!" she did 
exclaim, "there is no moon at this time of the month; it 
hath no business to be shining now." And of a sudden, 
bidding open her curtain, she did behold a comet, which 
shone right on her bed. "Ah, look ! " she cried, "yonder 
is a sign which doth not appear for persons of common 
quality. God doth show it forth only for us great lords 
and ladies. Shut the window again ; 'tis a comet, announc- 
ing my death ; we must prepare therefor." So next morn- 
ing, having sent to seek her confessor, she did perform 
all the duty of a good Christian, albeit the physicians did 
assure her she was not yet come to this. "Had I not 
seen the sign of my death," she said, "I should believe you, 
for indeed I do not feel me so far gone," and thereon did 
describe to them all the appearance of the comet. Finally, 
three days later, leaving all concerns of this world, she did 
pass away. 

I cannot but believe but that great ladies, and such as 
be young, beautiful and high-born, do feel greater and 
more sore regret to leave this world than other women. 
Yet will I now name some such, which have made light 
of death, and have met the same with a good heart, though 
for the moment the announcement thereof was exceeding 
bitter and hateful to them. The late Comtesse de La 
Rochefoucault, of the house of Roye, in my opinion and 
that of many beside, one of the fairest and most charming 
women in all France, when her minister (for she was of the 
Reformed Faith, as everybody is aware) did warn her she 
must think no more of worldly things, and that her hour 
was now come, that she must presently away to God 
which was calling her, and leave all worldly vanities, 





which were naught as compared with the blessedness of 
heaven, she said to him thus: "This is all very well, Sir 
Minister, to say to women which have no great content- 
ment and pleasure in this world, and which have one 
foot in the grave already; but to me, that am no more 
than in the bloom of mine age and my delight in this world 
and my beauty, your sentence is exceeding bitter. And 
albeit I have more cause to hug myself in this world than 
in any other, and much reason to regret dying, yet would 
I fain show you my high courage herein, and do assure 
you I take my death with as good will as the most com- 
mon, abject, low, foul old crone that ever was in this 
world." So presently, she did set her to sing psalms with 
much pious devotion, and so died. 

Madame d'Espernon, of the house of Candale, was at- 
tacked of so sudden and deadly a malady as that she 
was carried off in less than a week. Before her death, she 
did essay all remedies which might cure her, imploring 
the help of men and of God in most fervent prayers, as 
well as of all her friends, and her retainers male and 
female, taking it very hard that she was to die so young. 
But when they did reason with her and inform her she 
must verily and indeed quit this world, and that no remedy 
was of any avail : "Is it true ?" she said ; 'leave me alone 
then, I will make up my mind to bear it bravely." These 
were the exact words she used. Then lifting up her two 
soft, white arms, and laying her two hands one against 
the other, with an open look and a confident spirit, she 
made her ready to wait death with all patience, and to 
leave this world, which she did proceed to abjure in very 
pious and Christian terms. Thus did she die as a devout 
and good Christian should, at the age of twenty-six, being 



one of the handsomest and most charming women of her 

Tis not right, they say, to praise one's own belongings ; 
on the other hand what is at once good and true should not 
be kept hid. This is why I am fain in this place to commend 
Madame d'Aubeterre, 2 mine own niece and daughter of my 
elder brother, who as all they that have seen her at Court 
or elsewhere will go with me in saying, was one of the 
fairest and most perfect ladies you could see, as well in 
body as in mind. The former did plainly and externally 
show forth its excellence in her handsome and charming 
face, her graceful figure, and all her sweet mien and bear- 
ing ; while for the mind, 'twas divinely gifted and ignorant 
of naught it were meet to know. Her discourse was very 
fit, simple and unadorned, and did flow right smoothly and 
agreeably from her lips, whether in serious converse or in 
merry interchange of wit. No woman have I ever seen 
which, in my opinion, did more resemble our Queen Mar- 
guerite of France, as well in her general air as in her spe- 
cial charms; and I did once hear the Queen Mother say 
the same. To say this is by itself commendation enough, 
so I will add no more; none which have ever seen her, 
will, I am well assured, give me the lie as to this. Of a 
sudden it befell this lady to be attacked by a malady, 
which the physicians did fail to recognize rightly, merely 
wasting their Latin in the attempt. Herself, however, did 
believe she had been poisoned; though I will not say in 
what quarter. Still God will avenge all, and mayhap 
the guilty in this matter will yet be punished. She did 
all she could in the way of remedies, though not, she 
did declare, because she was afeared of dying. For since 
her husband's death, she had lost all fear of this, albeit 




he was for sure in no wise her equal in merit, nor deserving 
of her or of the tender tears her fair eyes did shed after 
his death. Yet would she have been right glad to live on a 
while longer for the love of her daughter, the which she 
was leaving a tender slip of a girl. This last was a good 
and excellent reason, while regrets for an husband that was 
both foolish and vexatious are surely but vain and idle. 

Thus she, seeing now no remedy was of avail, and feeling 
her own pulse, which she did herself try and find to be 
galloping fast (for she had understanding of all such mat- 
ters), two days before she died, did send to summon her 
daughter, 3 and did make her a very good and pious exhor- 
tation, such as no other mother mayhap that I know of 
could have made a finer one or one better expressed, at 
once instructing her how to live in this world and how 
to win the grace of God in the next ; this ended, she did 
give her her blessing, bidding her no more trouble with her 
tears the sweet easefulness and repose she was about to 
enjoy with God. Presently she did ask for her mirror, 
and looking at herself very fixedly therein, did exclaim, 
"Ah! traitor face, that doth in no wise declare my sick- 
ness (for indeed 'twas as fair to look on as ever), thou 
art yet unchanged; but very soon death, which is draw- 
ing nigh, will have the better of thy beauty, which shall 
rot away and be devoured of worms." Moreover she had 
put the most part of her rings on her fingers ; and gazing 
on these, and her hand withal, which was very well shaped : 
"Lo! a vanity I have much loved in days gone-by; yet 
now I do quit the same willingly, to bedeck me in the 
other world with another much fairer adornment." 

Then seeing her sisters weeping their eyes out at her 
bedside, she did comfort them, exhorting them to take in 




good part, as she did, what God was pleased to send her, 
and saying that as they had always loved each other so 
well, they should not grieve at that which did bring her 
only joy and contentment. She did further tell them that 
the fond friendship she had ever borne them should be 
eternal, beseeching them to return her the like, and above 
all to extend it to her child. Presently seeing them but 
weep the harder at this, she said once more: "Sisters 
mine, an if ye do love me, why do ye not rejoice with 
me over the exchange I make of a wretched life for one 
most happy? My soul, wearied of so many troubles, 
doth long to be free, and to be in blessed rest with Jesus 
Christ my Saviour. Yet you would fain have it still 
tied to this miserable body, which is but its prison, not 
its domicile. I do beseech you, therefore, my sisters, 
torment yourselves no more." 

Many other the like words did she prefer, so pious and 
Christian as that there is never a Divine, however great 
could have uttered better or more blessed, all which I 
do pass over. In especial she did often ask to see Madame 
de Bourdeille, her mother, whom she had prayed her sisters 
to send fetch, and kept saying to them: "Oh! sisters, is 
not Madame de Bourdeille coming yet? Oh! how slow 
your couriers be! they be really not fit to ride post and 
make special speed." Her mother did at last arrive, but 
never saw her alive, for she had died an hour before. 

She did ask earnestly too for me, whom she ever spake 
of as her dear uncle, and did send us her last farewell. 
She did beg them to have her body opened after death, a 
thing she had always strongly abhorred, to the end, as she 
said to her sisters, that the cause of her death being more 
evidently discovered, this should enable them and her 



daughter the better to take precautions and so preserve 
their lives. "For I must admit," she said, "a suspicion 
that I was poisoned five years agone along with mine uncle 
de Brantome and my sister the Comtesse de Durtal ; but 
I did get the biggest piece. Yet would I willingly charge 
no one with such a crime, for fear it should prove a false 
accusation and my soul be weighted with the guilt thereof, 
my soul which I do earnestly desire may be free of all 
blame, rancour, ill-will and sinfulness, that it may fly 
straight to God its Creator." 

I should never have done, if I were to repeat all; for 
her discourse was full and long, and such as did show no 
sign at all of an outwearied body or a weak and failing 
spirit. As to this, there was a certain gentleman, her 
neighbour, a witty talker and one she had loved to con- 
verse and jest withal, who did present himself and to whom 
she said : "Ha, ha ! good friend ! needs must give in this 
fall, tongue and sword and all. So, fare you well !" 

Her physician and her sisters did wish her to take some 
cordial medicine or other ; but she begged them not to give 
it her, "for these would merely," she said, "be helping 
to prolong my pain and put off my final rest." So she did 
ask them to leave her alone; and was again and again 
heard to say: "Dear God! how gentle sweet is death! 
who had ever dreamed it could be so?" Then, little by 
little, yielding up her spirit very softly, she did close her 
eyes, without making any of those hideous and fearsome 
signs that death doth show in many at the supreme 

Madame de Bourdeille, her mother, was not long in 
following her. For the melancholy she did conceive at the 
death of this her noble daughter did carry her off in 





eighteen months, after a sickness lasting seven months, at 
one time giving cause for good hope of recovery, at an- 
other seeming desperate. But from the very first, herself 
did declare she would never get the better of it, in no 
wise fearing death, and never praying God to grant 
her life and health, but only patience in her sufferings 
and above that He would send her a peaceful death, and 
one neither painful nor long drawn out. And so it befell ; 
for while we deemed her only fainted, she did give up her 
soul so gently as that she was never seen to move either 
foot or arm or limb, nor give any fearful and hideous 
look ; but casting a glance around with eyes that were as 
fair as ever, she passed away, remaining as beautiful in 
death as she had been when alive and in the plenitude of 
her charms. 

A sore pity, verily, of her and of all fair ladies that die 
so in the bloom of their years ! Only I do believe this, that 
Heaven, not content with those fair lights which from the 
creation of the world do adorn its vault, is fain, beside 
these, to have yet other new stars to still illumine us, as 
erst they did when alive, with their beauteous eyes. 

Another example, and then an end: 

You have seen in these last days the case of Madame de 
Balagny, true sister in all ways of the gallant Bussy. 
When Cambrai was besieged, she did all ever she could, 
of her brave and noble heart, to prevent its being taken; 
but after having in vain exhausted herself in every sort 
of defensive means she could contrive, and seeing now 
'twas all over and the town already in the enemy's power, 
and the citadel soon to go the same road, unable to endure 
the smart and heart's pang of evacuating her Principality 


MMittffDsni . * irmvrMriTOrafOTSnratftSri^^ 

i im^m}m!VS!y3!&^ 

(for her husband and herself had gotten themselves to be 
called Prince and Princess of Cambrai and Cambresis, 
a title sundry nations did find odious and much too pre- 
sumptuous, seeing their rank was but that of plain 
gentlefolk), did die of grief and so perished at the post 
of honour. Some say she did die by her own hand, an act 
deemed however more Pagan than Christian. Be this as it 
may, she deserveth but praise for her gallantry and 
bravery in all this, and for the rebuke she did administer 
her husband at the time of her death, when she thus said 
to him: "How can you endure, Balagny, to live on after 
your most dismal fall of Fortune, to be a spectacle and 
laughing stock to all the world, which will point the finger 
of scorn at you, thus falling from great glory whereto 
you had been elevated to the low place I see awaiting you, 
and if you follow not my example? Learn then of me 
to die nobly, and not survive your misfortunes and dis- 
grace." 'Tis a grand thing thus to see a woman teaching 
us how to live, and how to die. Yet would he neither 
obey nor believe her; but at the end of seven or eight 
months, quick fogetting the memory of this gallant lady, 
he did re-wed with the sister of Madame de Monceaux,* no 
doubt a fair and honourable damosel, manifesting to all 
and sundry how that to keep alive was his one thing 
needful, be it on what terms it may. 

Of a surety life is good and sweet ; natheless is a noble 
death greatly to be commended, such as was this lady's, 
who dying as she did of grief, doth appear of a contrary 
complexion to that of some women, which are said to be of 
an opposite nature to men, for that they do die of joy and 
in joy. 






JF this sort of death I will allege only the 
instance of Mile, de Limueil, the elder, which 
'did die at Court, being one of the Queen's 
maids of honour. All through her sickness, 
whereof she died, her tongue did never leave off wagging, 
but she did talk continuously; for she was a very great 
chatterbox, a sayer of very witty and telling scoffs, and 
a very fine woman withal. When the hour of her death 
was come, she did summon her chamber valet to her ; for 
each maid of honour hath her own. He was called Julian, 
and did play excellently on the violin. "Julian," saith* 
she to him, "come take your violin and go on playing 
me the Defaite des Suisses (Switzers* Rout) 1 till I be dead, 
and play it as well as ever you can ; and when you come to 
the words, Tout est perdu ("All is lost"), play the passage 
over four or five times as pathetically as you may." This 
the other did, while she joined in with her voice ; and when 
'twas come to Tout est perdue, she did repeat it over twice. 
Then turning to the other side of the bed, she cried to her 
friends : "Yes ! all is lost this bout, and for good and all," 
and so died. Truly a death we may call gay and pleasant ! 
This tale I have of two of her companions, persons of 
credit, who saw the mystery played out. 

If then there be women which do die of joy and in 
joyous wise, no less are men to be found which have done 
the like. Thus we read of that great Pope, Leo X., how 
he did die of joy and delight, when he beheld us French- 
men driven out altogether from the State of Milan ; so sore 
a hate he bare us! 




The late Grand Prior, M. de Lorraine, did one time 
conceive the wish to send a pair of his Galleys on an expe- 
dition to the Levant under the command of Captain 
Beaulieu, one of his Lieutenants, of the which I have spoke 
somewhat in another place. Beaulieu went readily enough, 
being a brave and valiant sailor. When he was toward the 
Archipelago, he did fall in with a great Venetian ship, well 
armed and well found, which he set him to fire upon. But 
the ship did return his salute to some purpose ; for at the 
first volley she did carry clean away two of his banks of 
oars, galley-slaves and all. Amongst other sore wounded 
was his Lieutenant, a man named Captain Panier ("Bas- 
ket") and a good fellow enough, which had time to cry out 
this word only before he died: "Good-bye baskets all, 
the harvest is done," a merry and a pleasant jest to 
enliven his death withal ! The end was, M. de Beaulieu had 
to retire, this big ship proving beyond his power to over- 

The first year King Charles IX. was King, at the time of 
the July edict when he was yet residing in the Faubourg 
St. Germain, we did see the hanging of a certain gallows- 
bird in that quarter, which had stolen six silver goblets 
from the kitchen of the Prince de La Roche-sur-Yonne. 
So soon as he was on the ladder, he did beg the hangman 
to grant him a little space for a dying speech, and did take 
up his parable, remonstrating with the folk and telling 
them he was unjustly put to death, "for never," said he, 
"have I practised my thievings on the poor, on beggars 
and the vulgar herd, but only on Princes and great Lords, 
which be greater thieves than we, and do rob us every 
day of their lives; and 'tis a good deed to recover again 
of these folk what they do rob and filch from us." Much 




more diverting nonsense of the sort he did utter, the which 
'twere but wasted time to repeat. Presently the priest 
which was with him at the top of the ladder, turning to 
the people, as we see done, did call upon them: "Good 
sirs ! this poor criminal doth recommend himself to your 
prayers ; we will say all together for him and his soul's 
peace a Pater noster and an Ave Maria, and will sing 
a Salve." Then just as the folk were answering, the said 
poor criminal did drop his head, and fixing his eyes on 
the priest, did start bellowing like a calf, and making 
mock of the priest in the most absurd fashion ; then lend- 
ing him a kick, did send him flying from the top of the 
ladder to the bottom, so big a leap that he brake a leg. 
"Ah, ha! Sir priest!" cried the fellow, "God's truth, I 
knew I should shift you. Well! you've got your gruel 
now, my fine fellow." Hearing him groan, he did set up 
a loud and hearty guffaw; then this ended, did jump off 
the ladder of his own motion and set himself a-swinging 
into space. I dare swear the Court did laugh merrily at 
the trick, albeit the poor priest had done himself a serious 
hurt. A death, in good sooth, that can scarce be called 
grave and melancholy! 

The late deceased M. d'Estampes had a fool called 
Colin, a very diverting fellow. When his death was now 
nigh, his master did enquire how Colin was doing. They 
told him, "But poorly, my Lord; he is going to die, for 
he will take nothing." "Come now," said M. d'Estampes, 
who was at the moment at table, "take him this soup, 
and tell him, an if he will not take somewhat for love of 
me, I will never love him more, for they inform me he 
will take naught." The message was delivered to Colin, 
who, death already 'twixt the teeth of him, did make 





answer, "And who be they which have told my Lord I 
would take naught ?" Then being surrounded by a count- 
less cloud of flies (for 'twas summer time), he began to 
hunt them with his hand, as we see pages and lackeys and 
children do, a-trying to catch them ; and having taken two 
with one swoop, he cried, making a funny gesture more 
readily imagined than described, "Go tell my Lord," said 
he, "what I have taken for love of him, and that now I'm 
away to the kingdom of the flies," and so saying and 
turning him round to the other side of the bed, the merry 
rascal did expire. 

As to this, I have heard sundry philosophers declare 
that folk do very often at the moment of death remember 
them of those things they have the most loved in life, 
and tell of these; so gentlemen, soldiers, sportsmen, ar- 
tisans, all in fact, very near, according to their former 
occupation, do say some word thereof when a-dying. This 
is a fact often noted no less in past time than at the 
present day. 

Women in like wise do often out with a similar rigma- 
role, whores just as much as honest dames. So have I 
heard speak of a certain lady, of very good quality too, 
which on her death-bed did exult to spit out all about her 
divers intrigues, naughtinesses and past pleasures, to such 
purpose that she told more thereof than ever folk had 
known before, albeit she had always been suspected as a 
desperate wanton. This revelation she may have made, 
either in a dream possibly, or else because truth, that can 
never be hid, did constrain her thereto, or mayhap be- 
cause she was fain so to discharge her conscience. Any- 
how, she did actually, with clear conscience and true re- 
pentance, confess and ask forgiveness for her sins, detail- 




ing them each and all, dotting i's and crossing t's, till all 
was as clear as day. Verily, a curious thing, she should 
have found leisure at that supreme hour so to be sweeping 
her conscience clean of such a muckheap of scandal, 
and with such careful particularity. 

Another good lady I have heard of which was so apt 
to dream every night, as that she would tell out by night 
everything she did by day, in such wise that she did bring 
sore suspicion of herself on her husband's part, who did 
presently set himself to listen to her talking and prattling 
and pay heed to her dreams, whereby an ill fate did later 
on befall her. 

'Tis no long while since a gentleman of the great world, 
belonging to a province I will not name, did the same 
thing on his death-bed, publishing abroad his loves and 
lecheries, and specifying the ladies, wives and maids, 
which he had had to do with, and in what places, and how 
and under what circumstances. All this he did confess 
loud out, asking God's pardon therefor before everybody. 
This last did worse than the woman just mentioned, for 
whereas she did bring disrepute on herself only, he did 
blacken several fair ladies' good name. A fine pair of 
gallants truly! 

Tis said that misers, both male and female, have like- 
wise this trick of thinking much, in the hour of death, 
on their hoard of crowns, forever talking of the same. 
Some forty years agone there was a certain lady of Morte- 
mar, one of the richest ladies in all Poitou and one of the 
most moneyed, which afterward when she came to die had 
never a thought for aught but her crowns that were in her 
closet. All the time of her sickness, she would rise from 
her bed twenty times a day to go visit her treasure. At 





the last, when she was now very nigh her end and the priest 
was exhorting her to think of the life eternal, she would 
make no other reply nor say any other word but only this : 
"Give me my gown; the villains are robbing me." Her 
one thought was to rise and visit her strong-room, as she 
did sore strive to do, but the effort was beyond the poor 
lady. And so she died. 

I have let myself toward the end wander a little away 
from the first intention of my present Discourse; but we 
should bear in mind that after preaching and tragedy, 
farce ever cometh next. With this word, I make an end. 



now we 6houul UCAJCT apcaJc iu of txaaica, on3 of 

j j j 

aocmxJA ol do 3oina. 


|NE point there is to be noted in these fair and 
honourable dames which do indulge in love, to 
wit that whatsoever freedom they do allow 
themselves, they will never willingly suffer 
offence or scandal to be said of them by others, and if 
any do say ill of them, they know very well how to avenge 
the affront sooner or later. In a word, they be ready 
enough to do the thing, but unwilling it should be spoken 
about. And in very sooth 'tis not well done to bring ill 
repute on an honourable lady, nor to divulge on her; 
for indeed what have a number of other folks to do with 
it, an if they do please their senses and their lovers' to 
boot ? 

The Courts of our French Kings, and amongst others, 
those of later years in especial, have been greatly given 
to blazon abroad the faults of these worthy dames; and 
I have known the days when was never a gallant about 
the Palace but did discover some falsehood to tell against 
the ladies, or at least find some true though scandalous 
tale to repeat. All this is very blameworthy; for a man 




ought never to offend the honour of fair ladies, and least 
of all great ladies. And I do say this as well to such 
as do reap enjoyment of ladies' favour, as to them which 
cannot taste the venison, and for this cause do decry the 

The Courts of our later Kings have, I repeat it, been 
overmuch given to this scandal-mongering and tale-bear- 
ing, herein differing widely from those of earlier Sov- 
ereigns, their predecessors, alway excepting that of Louis 
XL, that seasoned reprobate. Of him 'tis said that most 
times he would eat at a common table, in open Hall, with 
many gentlemen of his privy household and others withal ; 
and whoever could tell him the best and most lecherous 
story of light women and their doings, this man was best 
welcomed and made most of. Himself, too, showed no 
scruple to do the like, for he was exceeding inquisitive 
and loved to be informed of all secrets ; then having found 
these out, he would often divulge the same to companions, 
and that publicly. 1 This was indeed a very grave scandal. 
He had a most ill opinion of women, and an entire disbelief 
in their chastity. After inviting the King of England to 
Paris on a visit of good fellowship, and being taken at 
his word by that Prince, he did straight repent him, and 
invented an alibi to break off the engagement. "Holy 
Christ !" he said on this occasion, "I don't want him com- 
ing here. He would certainly find some little smart, dainty 
minx, that he would fall over head and ears in love with, 
who would tempt him to stay longer and come oftener 
than I should at all like." 

Natheless of his wife 2 he had a very high opinion, who 
was a very modest and virtuous lady; and truly she had 
need be so, for else, being a distrustful and suspicious 




Prince if ever there was one, he would very soon have 
treated her like the rest. And when he died, he did charge 
his son to love and honour his mother well, but not to be 
ruled of her, "not that she was not both wise and 
chaste," he declared, "but that she was more Burgundian 
than French." And indeed he did never really love her but 
to have an heir of her; and when he had gotten this, he 
made scarce nay account of her more. He kept her at 
the Castle of Amboise like a plain Gentlewoman in very 
scanty state and as ill-dressed as any young country girl. 
There he would leave her with few attendants to say her 
prayers, while himself was away travelling and taking his 
pleasure elsewhere. I leave you to imagine, such being 
the opinion the King held of women, and such his delight 
in speaking ill of them, how they were maltreated by every 
evil tongue at Court. Not that he did otherwise wish them 
ill for so taking their pleasure, nor that he desired to stop 
their amusements at all, as I have seen some fain to do; 
but his chief est joy was to gird at them, the effect being 
that these poor ladies, weighed down under such a load 
of detraction, were often hindered from kicking of their 
heels so freely as they would else have liked to do. Yet 
did harlotry much prevail in his day ; for the King himself 
did greatly help to establish and keep up the same with 
the gentlemen of his Court. Then was the only question, 
who could make the merriest mock thereat, whether in 
public or in privity, and who could tell the merriest tales 
of the ladies' wantonings and -wriggles (this was his 
phrase) and general naughtiness. True it is the names 
of great ladies were left unmentioned, such being censured 
only by guess-work and appearances; and I ween they 
had a better time than some I have seen in the days of 



the late King, which did torment and chide and bully them 
most strangely. Such is the account I have heard of that 
good monarch, Louis XI., from divers old stagers. 

At any rate his son, King Charles VIII., which did 
succeed him, was not of this complexion ; for 'tis reported 
of him now that he was the most reticent and fair-speaking 
monarch was even seen, and did never offend man or 
woman by the very smallest ill word. I leave you then to 
think of the fair ladies of his reign, and all merry lovers 
of the sex, did not have good times in those days. And 
indeed he did love them right well and faithfully, in fact 
too well; for returning back from his Naples expedition 
triumphant and victorious, he did find such excessive 
diversion in loving and fondling the same, and pleasuring 
them with so many delights at Lyons, in the way of tourna- 
ments and tourneys which he did hold for love of them, 
that clean forgetting his partisans which he had left in 
that Kingdom, he did leave these to perish, and towns 
and kingdom and castles to boot, which yet held out, and 
were stretching forth hands of supplication to him to send 
them succour. 'Tis said moreover that overmuch devotion 
to the ladies was the cause of his death, for by reason 
of a too reckless abandonment to these pleasures, he did, 
being of a very weakly frame of body, so enervate and 
undermine his health as that this behaviour did no little 
contribute to his death. 

Our good King Louis XII. was very respectful toward 
the ladies ; for as I have said in another place, he would 
ever pardon all stage-players, as well as scholars and 
clerks of the Palace in their guilds, no matter who they 
did make free to speak of, excepting the Queen his wife, 
and her ladies and damosels, albeit he was a merry 





gallant in his day and did love fair women as well as 
other folk. Herein he did take after his grand-father, 
Duke Louis of Orleans, though not in this latter's ill 
tongue and inordinate conceit and boastfulness. And 
truly this defect did cost him his life, for one day having 
boasted loud out at a banquet whereat Duke John of 
Burgundy, his cousin, was present, how that he had in 
his private closet portraits of all the fairest ladies he 
had enjoyed, as chance would have it, Duke John him- 
self did enter this same closet. The very first lady whose 
picture he beheld there, and the first sight that met his 
eyes, was his own most noble lady wife, which was at that 
day held in high esteem for her beauty. She was called 
Marguerite, daughter of Albert of Bavaria, Count of 
Hainault and Zealand. Who was amazed then? who but 
the worthy husband? Fancy him muttering low down 
to himself, "Ha, ha! I see it all!" However, making no 
outcry about the flea that really bit him, he did hide it all, 
though hatching vengeance, be sure, for a later day, and 
so picked a quarrel with him as to his regency and ad- 
ministration of the Kingdom. Thus putting off his griev- 
ance on this cause and not on any matter of his wife at 
all, he had the Duke assassinated at the Porte Barbette of 
Paris. Then presently his first wife being now dead (we 
may suspect by poison), and right soon after, he 
did wed in the second place the daughter of Louis, third 
Duke of Bourbon. Mayhap this bargain was no better 
than his first; for truly with folks which be meet for 
horns, change bed-chamber and quarters as they may, they 
will ever encounter the same. 

The Duke in this matter did very wisely, so to avenge 
him of his adultery without setting tongues a-wagging 




of his concerns or his wife's, and 'twas a judicious piece 
of dissimulation on his part. Indeed I have heard a very 
great nobleman and soldier say, how that there be three 
things a wise man ought never to make public, an if he 
be wronged therein. Rather should he hold his tongue 
on the matter, or better still invent some other pretext 
to fight upon and get his revenge, unless that is the 
thing was so clear and manifest, and so public to many 
persons, as that he could not possibly put off his action 
onto any other motive but the true one. 

The first is, when 'tis brought up against a man that 
he is cuckold and his wife unfaithful ; another, when he is 
taxed with buggery and sodomy; the third, when 'tis 
stated of him that he is a coward, and that he hath basely 
run away from a fight or a battle. All three charges be 
most shameful, when a man's name is mentioned in con- 
nection therewith; so he doth fight the accusation, and 
will sometimes suppose he can well clear himself and prove 
his name to have been falsely smirched. But the matter 
being thus made public, doth cause only the greater scan- 
dal; and the more 'tis stirred, the more doth it stink, 
exactly as vile stench waxeth worse, the more it is dis- 
turbed. And this is why 'tis always best, if a man can 
with honour, to hold his tongue, and contrive and invent 
some new motive to account for his punishment of the 
old offence ; for such like grievances should ever be ignored 
so far as may be, and never brought into court, or made 
subjects of discussion or contention. Many examples 
could I bring of this truth; but 'twould be over irksome 
to me, and would unduly lengthen out my Discourse. 

So we see Duke John was very wise and prudent thus to 
dissimulate and hide his horns, and on quite other grounds 





take his revenge on his cousin, which had shamed him. 
Else had he been made mock of, and his name blazoned 
abroad. No doubt dread of such mockery and scandal 
did touch him as nigh at heart as ever his ambition, and 
made him act like the wise and experienced man of the 
world he was. 

Now, however, to return from the digression which hath 
delayed me, our King Francis I., who was a good lover 
of fair ladies, and that in spite of the opinion he did ex- 
press, as I have said elsewhere, how that they were fickle 
and inconstant creatures, would never have the same ill 
spoke of at his Court, and was always most anxious they 
should be held in all high respect and honour. I have 
heard it related how that one time, when he was spending 
his Lent at Meudon near Paris, there was one of the 
gentlemen in his service there named the Sieur de Brizam- 
bourg, of Saintogne. As this gentleman was serving the 
King with meat, he having a dispensation to eat thereof, 
his master bade him carry the rest, as we see sometimes 
done at Court, to the ladies of the privy company, whose 
names I had rather not give, for fear of offence. The 
gentleman in question did take upon him to say, among 
his comrades and others of the Court, how that these ladies 
not content with eating of raw meat in Lent, were now 
eating cooked as well, and their belly full. The ladies 
hearing of it, did promptly make complaint to the King, 
which thereupon was filled with so great an anger, as that 
he did instantly command the archers of the Palace guard 
to take the man and hang him out of hand. By lucky 
chance the poor gentleman had wind of what was a-foot 
from one of his friends, and so fled and escaped in the 
nick of time. But an if he had been caught, he would 



most certainly have been hanged, albeit he was a man of 
good quality, so sore was the King seen to be wroth that 
time, and little like to go back on his word. I have this 
anecdote of a person of honour and credibility which was 
present ; and at the time the King did say right out, that 
any man which should offend the honour of ladies, the same 
should be hanged without benefit of clergy. 

A little while before, Pope Farnese being come to Nice, 
and the King paying him his respects in state with all his 
Court and Lords and Ladies, there were some of these last, 
and not the least fair of the company, which did go to the 
Pope for to kiss his slipper. Whereupon a gentleman did 
take on him to say they had gone to beg his Holiness for a 
dispensation to taste of raw flesh without sin or shame, 
whenever and as much as ever they might desire. The 
King got to know thereof ; and well it was for the gentle- 
man he did fly smartly, else had he been hanged, as well 
for the veneration due to the Pope as for the respect 
proper to fair ladies. 


HESE gentlemen were not so happy in their 
speeches and interviews as was once the late 
deceased M. d'Albanie. The time when Pope 
Clement did visit Marseilles to celebrate the 
marriage of his niece with M. d'Orleans, there were three 
widow ladies, of fair face and honourable birth, which by 
reason of the pains, vexations and griefs they suffered 
from the absence of their late husbands and of those 
pleasures that were no more, had come so low, and grown 
so thin, weak and sickly, as that they did beseech M. d'Al- 





banic, their kinsman, who did possess a good share of the 
Pope's favour, to ask of him dispensation for the three of 
them to eat meat on prohibited days. This the said Duke 
did promise them to do, and to that end did one day bring 
them on a friendly footing to the Pope's lodging. Mean- 
time he had warned the King of what was a-foot, telling 
him he would afford him some sport. So having put him 
up to the game, and the three ladies being on their knees 
before his Holiness, M. d'Albanie took the word first, 
saying in a low tone and in Italian, so that the ladies did 
not catch his words: "Holy Father, see here before you 
three widow ladies, fair to look on and very well born. 
These same for the respect they bear toward their dead 
husbands and the love they have for the children they have 
borne to these, will not for aught in all the world marry 
again and so wrong their husbands and children. But 
whereas they be sometimes sore tempted by the pricks of 
the flesh, they do therefore humbly beseech your Holiness 
for leave to go with men without marriage, whenever and 
wherever they shall find them under the said temptation." 
"What say you, cousin?" cried the Pope. "Why! 
'twould be against God's own commandments, wherefrom 
I can give no dispensation." "Well! the ladies are here 
before you, Holy Father, and if it please you to hear them 
say their say." At this one of the three, taking the word, 
said: "Holy Father! we have besought M. d'Albanie to 
make you our very humble petition for us three poor 
women, and to represent to your Holiness our frailty and 
our weakly complexion." "Nay ! my daughters," replied 
the Pope, "but your petition is in no wise reasonable, for 
the thing would be clean against God's commandments." 
Then the widows, still quite ignorant of what M. d'Albanie 




had told the Pope, made answer: "At the least, Holy 
Father, may it please you give us leave three times a week, 
without scandal to our name." "What!" exclaimed the 
Pope, "give you leave to commit U peccato dl lussuria 
(the sin of lasciviousness?). I should damn mine own 
soul; I cannot do it!" Hereupon the three ladies, per- 
ceiving at last 'twas a case of scampishness and knavery, 
and that M. d'Albanie had played a trick on them, de- 
clared, " 'Tis not of that we speak, Holy Father ; we but 
ask permission to eat meat on prohibited days." Hear- 
ing these words, the Due d'Albanie told them, "Nay! I 
thought 'twas live flesh you meant, ladies!" The Pope 
was quick to understand the knavery put on them, and 
said with a dawning smile, "You have put these noble ladies 
to the blush, my cousin; the Queen will be angered when 
she doth hear of it." The Queen did hear of it anon, but 
made no ado, and found the tale diverting. The King 
likewise did afterward make good mirth thereof with the 
Pope; while the Holy Father himself, after giving them 
his benediction, did grant them the dispensation they 
craved, and dismissed them well content. 

I have been given the names of the three ladies con- 
cerned, namely : Madame de Chasteau-B riant or Madame 
de Canaples, Madame de Chastillon and the Baillive de 
Caen, all three very honourable ladies. I have the tale 
from sundry old frequenters of the Court. 

Madame d'Uzes * did yet better, at the time when Pope 
Paul III. came to Nice to visit King Francis. She was 
then Madame du Bellay, and a lady which hath from her 
youth up always had merry ways and spake many a witty 
word. One day, prostrating herself at his Holiness' feet, 
she did make three supplications to him: first, that he 





grant her absolution, for that when yet a little maid, 
in waiting on the Queen Regent's majesty, and called by 
the name of Tallard, she did lose her scissors while sewing 
of her seam, and did make a vow to St. Allivergot to 
perform the same, an if she found them. This she pres- 
ently did, yet did never accomplish her vow, not knowing 
where the said Saint's body lay. The second petition was 
that he give her pardon forasmuch as, when Pope Clement 
came to Marseilles, she being still Mile. Tallard, she did 
take one of the pillows of his Holiness' bed, and did wipe 
herself therewith in front and in rear, on the which his 
Holiness did afterward rest his noble head and face. The 
third was this, that the Sieur de Tays, because she did love 
the same, but he loved not her, and the man is accursed 
and should be excommunicated which loveth not again, if 
he be loved. 

The Pope at first was sore astonished at these requests, 
but having enquired of the King who she was, did learn her 
witty ways, and laughed heartily over the matter with the 
King. Yet from that day forth all she did was found 
admirable, so good a grace did she display in all her ways 
and words. 

Now never suppose this same great monarch was so 
strict and stern in his respect for ladies, as that he did 
not relish well enough any good stories told him concern- 
ing them, without however any scandal-mongering or 
decrying of their good name. Rather like the great and 
highly privileged King he was, he would not that every 
man, and all the vulgar herd, should enjoy like privileges 
with himself. 

I have heard sundry relate how he was ever most anxious 
that the noble gentlemen of his Court should never be 




without mistresses. If they won none such, he did deem 
them simpletons and empty fools; while many a time he 
would ask one Courtier or another the name of the lady 
of his choice, and promise to do them good service in that 
quarter, and speak well of their merits. So good-natured 
a Prince was he and an affable. Oftentimes too, when he 
did observe his gentlemen full of free discourse with their 
mistresses, he would come up and accost them, asking 
what merry and gallant words they were exchanging 
with their ladies, and if he found the same not to his 
liking, correcting them and teaching them better. With 
his most intimate friends, he was no wise shy or sparing 
to tell his stories and share his good things with them. 
One diverting tale I have heard him tell, which did happen 
to himself, and which he did later on repeat. This was of 
a certain young and pretty lady new come to Court, the 
which being little skilled in the ways of the world, did very 
readily yield to the persuasions of the great folks, and in 
especial those of the said monarch himself. One day when 
he was fain to erect his noble standard and plant the same 
in her fort, she having heard it said, and indeed begun 
to note that when one gave a thing to the King, or took 
aught from him and touched it, the person must first 
kiss the hand for to take and touch it withal, did her- 
self without more ado fulfil the obligation and first very 
humbly kissing her hand did seize the King's standard 
and plant it in the fort with all due humbleness. Then did 
she ask him in cold blood, how he did prefer her to love 
him, as a respectable and modest lady, or as a wanton. 
No doubt he did ask her for the latter, for herein was she 
more able to show herself more agreeable than as a modest 
woman. And indeed he soon found out she had by no 



means wasted her time, both after the event and before it, 
and all. When all was done, she would drop him a deep 
curtsy, thanking him respectfully for the honour he had 
done her, whereof she was all unworthy, often suggesting 
to him at the same time some promotion for her husband. 
I have heard the lady's name, one which hath since grown 
much less simple than at first she was, and is nowadays 
cunning and experienced enough. The King made no ado 
about repeating the tale, which did reach the ears of not 
a few folks. 

This monarch was exceeding curious to hear of the love 
of both men and women, and above all their amorous en- 
gagements, and in especial what fine airs the ladies did 
exhibit when at their gentle work, and what looks and 
attitudes they did display therein, and what words they 
said. On hearing all this, he would laugh frank and free, 
but after would forbid all publishing abroad thereof and 
any scandal making, always strongly recommending an 
honourable secrecy on these matters. 

He had for his good follower herein that great, most 
magnificent and most generous nobleman, the Cardinal de 
Lorraine. Most generous I may well call him, for he had 
not his like in his day; his free expenditure, his many 
gracious gifts and kindnesses, did all bear witness thereof, 
and above all else his charity toward the poor. He would 
regularly bear with him a great game-bag, the which his 
valet of the bed-chamber, who did govern his petty cash, 
never failed to replenish, every morning, with three or four 
hundred crowns. And as many poor folk as he met, he 
would plunge his hand in the game-bag, and whatsoever 
he drew out therefrom, without a moment's thought, he 
gave away, and without any picking or choosing. 'Twas 





of him a poor blind man, as the Cardinal was passing in 
the streets of Rome and was asked for an alms, and so did 
throw him according to wont a great handful of gold, 
said thus, crying out aloud in the Italian tongue: O tu 
set Christo, o veramente el cardinal di Lorrena, "Either 
you are Christ, or the Cardinal de Lorraine." Moreover 
if he was generous and charitable in this way, he was no 
less liberal toward other folks as well, and chiefly where 
fair ladies were concerned, whom he did easily attach to 
him by this regale. For money was not so greatly abun- 
dant in those days as it hath nowadays become, and for 
this cause women were more eager after the same, and 
every sort of merry living and gay attire. 

I have heard it said that ever on the arrival at Court of 
any fair damsel or young wife that was handsome and 
attractive, he would come instantly to greet the same, and 
discoursing with her would presently offer to undertake 
the training of her. A pretty trainer for sooth ! I ween 
the task was not so irksome an one as to train and break 
some wild colt. Accordingly 'twas said at that time, was 
scarce dame or damsel resident at Court or newly come 
thither, but was caught and debauched by dint of her own 
avariciousness and the largesse of the aforesaid Cardinal ; 
and few or none have come forth of that Court women 
of chastity and virtue. Thus might their chests and big 
wardrobes be seen for that time more full of gowns and 
petticoats, of cloth of gold and silver and of silk, than 
be nowadays those of our Queens and great Princesses of 
the present time. I know this well, having seen the thing 
with mine own eyes in two or three instances, fair ladies 
which had gotten all this gear by their dainty body ; for 




neither father, mother nor husband could have given them 
the same in anything like such wealth and abundance. 

Nay! but I should have refrained me, some will say, 
from stating so much of the great Cardinal, in view of his 
honoured cloth and most reverend and high estate. Well ! 
his King would have it so, and did find pleasure therein; 
and pleasure one's Sovereign, a man is dispensed of all 
scruple, whether in making love or other matters, provided 
always they be not dishonourable. Accordingly he did 
make no ado about going to the wars, and hunting and 
dancing, taking part in mascarades, and the like sports 
and pastimes. Moreover he was a man of like flesh and 
blood with other folk, and did possess many great merits 
and perfections of his own, enough surely to outweigh and 
cloak this small fault, if fault it is to be called, to love 
fair ladies! - . '-I 

I have heard the following tale told of him in connection 
with the proper respect due to ladies. He was naturally 
most courteous toward them; yet did he once forget his 
usual practice, and not without reason enough, with the 
Duchess of Savoy, Donna Beatrix of Portugal. Travel- 
ling on one occasion through Piedmont, on his way to 
Rome on his Royal master's service, he did visit the 
Duke and Duchess. After having conversed a sufficient 
while with the Duke, he went to find the noble Duchess 
in her chamber for to pay his respects to her; arrived 
there and on his coming forward toward her, her Grace, 
who was haughtiness itself, if ever was such in the world, 
did offer him her hand to kiss. The Cardinal, loath to put 
up with this affront, did press forward to kiss her on the 
mouth, while she did draw back all she could. Then losing 
all patience and crowding up yet nearer to her, he takes 




her fairly by the head, and in spite of her struggles did 
kiss her two or three times over. And albeit she did pro- 
test sore with many cries and exclamations both in Portu- 
guese and Spanish, yet had she to endure this treatment. 
"What!" the Cardinal cried out; "is it to me this sort 
of state and ceremony is to be used? I do kiss right 
enough the Queen of France my Mistress, which is the 
greatest Queen in all the world, and I am not to kiss you, 
a dirty little slip of a duchess! I would have you to 
know I have bedded with ladies as fair as you, and as 
good to boot, and of better birth than ever you be." And 
mayhap he spoke but the truth. Anyway the Princess 
was ill-advised to make this show of haughtiness toward 
a Prince of so high an house, and above all towards a 
Cardinal; for there is never one of this exalted rank in 
the Church, but doth liken himself with the greatest Prin- 
ces of Christendom. The Cardinal too was in the wrong 
to take so harsh reprisals ; but 'tis ever very irksome to a 
noble and generous spirit, of whatever estate and calling, 
to put up with an affront. 

Another of the same rank, the Cardinal de Granvelle, 
did likewise well know how to make the Comte d'Egmont 
feel his displeasure on the same account, and others too 
whose names be at the tip of my pen, but whom I will pass 
over for fear of confusing my subject overmuch, though 
I may return again to them later. I do now confine myself 
to our late King Henri le Grand, which monarch was 
exceeding respectful to the ladies, whom he was used to 
treat with all reverence, and did alway hate gainsayers 
of their honour. And when so great King doth so serve 
fair ladies, a monarch of such puissance and repute, very 
loath for sure be all men of his Court to open mouth for 




to speak ill of the same. Beside, the Queen mother did 
exert a strong hand to guard her ladies and damsels, and 
make calumniators and satirists feel the weight of her 
resentment, when once they were found out, seeing how 
she had been as little spared by such as any of her ladies. 
Yet 'twas never herself she did take heed for so much as 
others, seeing, she was used to declare, how she did know 
her soul and conscience pure and void of offence, and could 
afford to laugh at these foul-mouthed writers and scandal- 
mongers. "Why ! let them say their worst," she would say, 
"and have their trouble for nothing"; yet whenever she 
did catch them at it, she knew how to make them smart 

It befell the elder Mile, de Limeuil, at her first coming 
to Court, to compose a satire or lampoon (for she had 
the gift of witty speech and writing) on the Court gen- 
erally, not however so much scandalous in its matter as 
diverting in form. Be assured the King's mother did 
make her pay for this well and feel the whip smartly, as 
well as two of her comrades which were in the secret to 
her majesty, through the house of Turenne, which is al- 
lied to that of Boulogne, she would have been chastised 
with every ignominy, and this by express order of the 
King, who had the most particular and curious dislike of 
such writings. 

I do remember me of an incident connected with the 
Sieur de Matha, a brave and gallant gentleman much 
loved of the King, and a kinsman of Madame de Valen- 
tinois, which did ever have some diverting quarrel and 
complaint against the damsels and dames of the Court, 
of so merry a complexion was he. One day having at- 
tacked one of the Queen's maids of honour, another, 




known by the name of "big Meray," was for taking up the 
cudgels for her companion. The only reply Matha did 
vouchsafe her was this : "Go to ! I'm not attacking you, 
Meray ; you're a great war-horse, and should be barded !" 2 
For insooth she was the very biggest woman, maid or 
wife, I have ever seen. She did make complaint of the 
speech to the Queen, saying the other had called her a 
mare and a great war-horse to be barded. The Queen 
was so sore angered that Matha had to quit the Court 
for some days, spite of all the favour he had with his kins- 
woman Madame de Valentinois; and for a month after 
his return durst not set foot in the apartment of the 
Queen and her maids of honour. 

The Sieur de Gersay did a much worse thing toward 
one of the Queen's maids of honour, to whom he was ill- 
disposed, for to avenge him upon her, albeit he was never 
at a loss for ready words; for indeed he was as good as 
most at saying a witty thing or telling a good story, and 
above all when spreading a scandal, of which art and 
mystery he was a past master; only scandal-mongering 
was at that time strongly forbidden. One day when he 
was present at the after dinner assembly of the Queen 
along with the other ladies and gentlemen of her Court, 
the custom then being that the company should not sit 
except on the floor when the Queen was present, de Gersay 
having taken from the pages and lackeys a ram's pizzle 
they were playing with in the Office Court of the Palace, 
sitting down beside her he did slip the same into the girl's 
frock, and this so softly as that she did never notice it, 
that is not until the Queen did proceed to rise from her 
chair to retire to her private apartment. The girl, whose 
name I had better not give, did straight spring up, and as 





she rose to her feet, right in front of the Queen, doth give 
so lusty a push to the strange plaything she had about 
her, as that it did make six or seven good bounces along 
the floor, for all the world as though it were fain of its 
own accord to give the company a free exhibition and 
some gratuitous sport. Who more astonished than the 
poor girl, and the Queen to boot, for 'twas well in front 
of her with naught to prevent her view? "Mother of 
God!" cried the Queen, "and what is that, my child; 
what would you be at with that thing?" The unhappy 
maid of honour, blushing and half fainting with con- 
fusion, began to cry out she knew not what it was, that 
some one who did wish her ill had played this horrid 
trick on her, and how she thought 'twas none other 
but de Gersay which had done it. The latter waiting 
only to see the beginning of the sport and the first few 
bounces, was through the door by now. They sent to 
call him back, but he would never come, perceiving the 
Queen to be so very wroth, yet stoutly denying the whole 
thing all the while. So he was constrained for some days 
to fly her resentment, and the King's too ; and indeed had 
he not been, along with Fontaine-Guerin, one of the Dau- 
phin's prime favourites, he would assuredly have been in 
sore straits, albeit naught could ever be proven against 
him except by guess-work, and notwithstanding the fact 
that the King and his courtiers and not a few ladies could 
not refrain them from laughing at the incident, though 
they durst not show their amusement in view of the 
Queen's displeasure. For was never a lady in all the 
world knew better than she how to startle folk with a 
sudden and sore rebuke. 

A certain honourable gentleman of the Court and a 



maid of honour did one time, from the good affection they 
erst had with one another, fall into hate and sore quarrel ; 
this went so far that one day the young lady said loud 
out to him in the Queen's apartment, the twain being in 
talk as to their difference: "Leave me alone, Sir, else I 
will tell what you told me." The gentleman, who had in- 
formed her in strict confidence of something about a very 
great lady, and fearing ill would befall him from it, and 
at the least he would be banished the Court, without more 
ado did answer back, for he was ready enough of speech : 
"If you do tell what I have told you, I will tell what I 
have done to you." Who more astonished than the lady 
at this ? yet did she contrive to reply : "Why ! what have 
you done to me?" The other did reply: "Why! what 
have I told you?" Thereupon doth the lady make an- 
swer: "Oh! I know very well what you told me." To 
which the other: "Oh! and I know very well what I did 
to you." The lady doth retort, "But I'll prove quite 
clearly what you told me;" and the other: "And I'll 
prove clearer still what I did to you." At long last, after 
sticking a long while at this counterchange of reply and 
retort in identical form and almost the same words, they 
were parted by the gentlemen and ladies there present, 
albeit these got much diversion from the dispute. 

This disputation having come to the Queen's ears, the 
latter was in great wrath thereanent, and was fain at 
once to know the words of the one and the deeds of the 
other, and did send to summon them. But the pair of 
them, seeing 'twas to be made a serious matter, did con- 
sult and straight agree together to say, whenas they did 
appear before the Queen, how that 'twas merely a game 
their so disputing with each other, and that neither had 





she been told aught by the gentleman, nor yet had he 
done aught to her. So did they balk the Queen, which 
did none the less chide and sore blame the courtier, on 
the ground that his words were over free and like to make 
scandal. The man sware to me twenty times over that, 
and if they had not so made it up and agreed in a tale, 
and the lady had actually revealed the secret he had told 
her, which might well have turned to his great injury, he 
would have resolutely maintained he had done his will on 
her, challenging them to examine her, and if she should 
not be found virgin, that 'twas himself had deflowered 
her. "Well and good!" I answered, "but an if they had 
examined her and found her a maid, for she was quite 
young and unmarried, you would have been undone, and 
'twould have gone hard but you had lost your life. 
"Body of me!" he did return, "that's just what I should 
have liked the best, that they should have examined the 
jade. I was well assured of my tale, for I knew quite well 
who had deflowered her, and that another man had been 
there right enough, though not I, to my much regret. 
So being found already touched and soiled, she had been 
undone, and I avenged, and her good name ruined to boot. 
I should have got off with marrying her, and afterward 
ridding me of her, as I could." And these be the risks 
poor maids and wives have to run, whether they be in the 
right o't or the wrong! 





DID one time know a lady of very high rank 
which did actually find herself pregnant by 
the act of a very brave and gallant Prince; 1 
'twas said however the thing was done under 
promise of marriage, though later the contrary was as- 
certained to be the case. King Henri was the first to 
learn the facts, and was sore vexed thereat, for she was 
remotely connected with his Majesty. Any way, with- 
out making any further noise or scandal about the mat- 
ter, he did the same evening at the Royal ball, chose her 
as his partner and lead her out to dance the torch-dance 2 
with him ; and afterward did make her dance with another 
the galliard and the rest of the "brawls," wherein she did 
display her readiness and dexterity better than ever, 
while Her figure had all its old grace and was so well 
arranged for the occasion as that she gave no sign of her 
bigness. The end was that the King, who had kept his 
eyes fixed on her very strictly all the time, did perceive 
naught, no more than if she had not been with child at 
all, and did presently observe to a great nobleman, one 
of his chief familiars: "The folk were most ill-advised 
and spiteful to have gone about to invent the tale that 
yonder poor girl was big with child; never have I seen 
her in better grace. The spiteful authors of the calumny 
have told a most wicked falsehood." Thus this good 
King did shield the noble lady and poor girl, and did re- 
peat the same thing to his Queen whenas he was to bed 
with her that night. But the latter, mistrusting the thing, 
did have her examined the next morning, herself being 
present, and she was found to be six months gone in preg- 




nancy; after she did confess and avow the whole truth to 
the Queen, saying 'twas done under pretence of marriage 
to follow. Natheless the King, who was all good nature, 
had the secret kept as close as ever possible, so as not to 
bring shame and scandal on the damsel, though the Queen 
for her part was very wrathful. Any way, they did send 
her off very quietly to the home of her nearest kinsfolk, 
where she was presently brought to bed of a fine boy. 
Yet was the lad so unfortunate that he could never get 
him recognized by his putative father; the trial of the 
case did drag out to great length, but the mother could 
never get aught decided in her favour. 

Now good King Henri did love merry tales as well as 
any of his predecessors, but he would never have scandal 
brought on ladies therein nor their secrets divulged. In 
fact, the King himself, who was of amorous complexion 
enough, when he was away to visit the ladies, would ever 
go thither stealthily and under cover all ever he could, 
to the end they might be free of suspicion and ill-repute. 
But an if there was any that was discovered, 'twas never 
by his fault or with his consent, but rather by the fair 
dame's doing. So have I heard of one lady of the sort, 
of a good house, named Madame Flamin, a Scotswoman, 
which being gotten with child by the King, did make no 
sort of secret of it, but would say it out boldly in her 
French Scotch thus: "I hae dune what I could, sae that 
the noo, God be thankit, I am wi' bairn by the King, 
whilk doth mak me an honoured and unco happy woman. 
And I maun say the blude Royal hath in it something 
of a more douce and tasty humour than the ordinar, I 
do find myself in sic gude case, no to speak of the fine 
bits o' presents forthcoming." 



jw4tvyjt^!.vvj!^i^w::\ .o :^^^ 

Her son, that she had presently, was the late Grand 
Prior of France, who was killed lately at Marseilles, a 
sore pity, for he was a very honourable, brave and gallant 
nobleman, and did show the same clearly at his death. 
Moreover he was a man of property and sense, and the 
least tyrannical Governor of a District of his own day 
or since. Provence could tell us that, and beside that he 
was a right magnificent Seigneur and of a generous ex- 
penditure. He was indeed a man of means, good sense and 
wise moderation. 

The said lady, with others I have heard of, held the 
opinion that to lie with one's Sovereign was no disgrace ; 
those be harlots indeed which do abandon their bodies to 
petty folk, but not where great Kings and gallant gentle- 
men be in question. Like that Queen of the Amazons I 
have named above, which came a journey of three hun- 
dred leagues for to be gotten with child by Alexander the 
Great, to have good issue therefrom. Yet there be those 
who say one man is as good as another for this ! 

After King Henri came Francis II., whose reign how- 
ever was so short as that spiteful folks had no time even 
to begin speaking ill of ladies. Not that we are to be- 
lieve, if he had enjoyed a long reign, that he would have 
suffered aught of the kind at his Court; for he was a 
monarch naturally good-natured, frank, and not one to 
take pleasure in scandal, as well as being most respectful 
toward ladies and very ready to pay them all honour. 
Beside he had the Queen his wife and the Queen his mother, 
and his good uncles to boot, all of which were much for 
checking these chatterers and loose-tongued gentry. I 
remember me how once, the King being at Saint-Germain 
en Laye, about the month of August or September, the 




fancy took him one evening to go see the stags in their 
rut in that noble forest of Saint-Germain, and he did 
take with him certain princes, his chief familiars, and 
some great ladies, both wives and maids, whose names I 
could very well give, an if I chose. Nor was there lacking 
one fain to make a talk of it, and say this did not smack 
of his womankind being exactly virtuous or chaste, to be 
going to see these lovemakings and wanton ruttings of 
beasts, seeing how the appetite of Venus must heat them 
more and more at sight of such doings. In fact, so sore 
will they be longing to taste, that sure the water or saliva 
will be coming to their mouth, in such wise that no other 
remedy will there be thereafter for to get rid of the same 
except only by some other discharge of saliva, or some- 
thing else. The King heard of this speech, and the noble- 
men and ladies which had accompanied him thither. Be 
well assured, an if the gentleman had not straightway 
decamped, he had fared very ill; nor did he ever again 
appear at Court till after that King's death and the end 
of his reign. Many scandalous pamphlets there were put 
forth against them which were then in direction of the 
Government of the Kingdom ; but there was never an one 
that did so hurt and offend as a satire entitled The Tiger 3 
modelled on the first invective of Cicero against Cati- 
line, especially as it spake freely of the amours of a 
very great and fair lady, and a great nobleman, her kins- 
man. An if the gallant author had been caught, though 
he had had an hundred thousand lives, he had surely lost 
them every one; for the two great folks, lady and gentle- 
man, were so exceeding vexed and angered as that they 
did all but die of despair. 

This King Francis II. was not subject to love like his 



predecessors; and truly he would have been greatly to 
blame, seeing he had to wife the fairest woman in all the 
world and the most amiable. And when a man hath such 
a wife, he doth not go seeking fortune elsewhere as others 
use, else is he a wretch indeed. And not so going, little 
recks he to speak ill of ladies, or indeed to speak well 
either, or to speak at all about them, except always of 
his own good lady at home. 'Tis a doctrine I have heard 
a very honourable personage maintain: natheless have I 
known it prove false more than once. 

King Charles came next to the throne, which by reason 
of the tenderness of his years, did pay no heed at the 
beginning of his reign to the ladies, but did rather give 
his thoughts to spending his time in youthful sports and 
exercises. Yet did the late deceased M. de Sipierre his 
Governour and Tutor, a man who was in my opinion 
and in that of every one else, the most honourable and 
most courteous gentleman of his time, and the most gentle 
and respectful toward women, did so well teach the same 
lesson to the King his master and pupil, as that he was 
as ready to honour ladies as any of the kings his prede- 
cessors. For never, whether as boy or man, did he see a 
woman, no matter how busied he was in other matters, 
whether he was hurrying on or standing still, on foot or 
on horse-back, but he would straight salute the same and 
most respectfully doff his cap. Whenas he came to an 
age for love, he did serve several very honourable dames 
and damsels I have known of, but all this with so great 
honour and respect as that he might have been the hum- 
blest gentleman of the Court. 

In his reign the great lampoonists did first begin their 
vogue, and amongst them even some very gallant gentle- 




men of the Court, whose names I will not give, did 
strangely abuse the ladies, both in general and in particu- 
lar, and even some of the greatest in the land. For this 
some of them have found themselves entangled in down- 
right fierce quarrels, and have come off second best, not 
indeed that they did avow the truth, for they did rather 
always deny they had aught to do with it. If they had 
confessed, they had had heavy payment to make, and the 
King would certainly have let them feel the weight of his 
displeasure, inasmuch as they did attack ladies of over 
high a rank. Others did show the best face they could, 
and did suffer the lie to be cast in their teeth a thousand 
times over, conditionally as we may say and vaguely, and 
had to swallow a thousand affronts, drinking the same in 
as sweetly as though they had been milk, without daring 
to retort one word, else had their lives been at risk. J Tis 
a thing which hath oft given me great surprise that such- 
like folks should set them to speak ill of their neighbours, 
yet suffer others to speak ill of themselves so sorely and 
to their very face. Yet had these men the repute of be- 
ing gallant swordsmen; but in this matter they would 
aye endure all but the extremest insult bravely and with- 
out one word of protest. 

I do remember me of a lampoon which was made against 
a very great lady, a widow, fair and of most honourable 
birth, which did desire to marry again with a very great 
Prince, a young and handsome man.* There were certain 
persons, (and I have accurate knowledge of the same), 
who disliking this marriage, and to dissuade the Prince 
therefrom, did concoct a lampoon on her, the most scan- 
dalous I have ever seen, in the which they did compare 
her to five or six of the chiefest harlots of Antiquity, and 



the most notorious and wanton, declaring how that she 
did overtop them each and all. The actual authors of 
the said satire did present it to the Prince, professing 
however that it did emanate from others, and that them- 
selves had merely been given it. The Prince, having 
looked at it, gave the lie to its statements and hurled a 
thousand vague and general insults at them which had 
writ it; yet did they pass all over in silence, brave and 
valiant men though they were. The incident however did 
give the Prince pause a while, seeing the lampoon did con- 
tain several definite revelations and point direct at some 
unpleasant facts; natheless after the lapse of two years 
more was the marriage accomplished. 

The King was so great-hearted and kindly that he was 
never inclined to favour folks of this kidney. To pass a 
spicy word or two with them aside, this he did like well 
enough; but he was always most unwilling the common 
herd should be fed on such diet, declaring that his Court, 
which was the best ennobled and most illustrious by rea- 
son of great and noble ladies of any in all the world, 
should never, such being its high repute, be cheapened 
and foully aspersed by the mouth of suchlike reckless and 
insolent babblers. J Twas well enough to speak so of the 
courtesans of Rome, or Venice, or other the like places, 
but not of the Court of France ; it migjit be permitted to 
do the thing, it was not permitted to speak thereof. 

Thus do we see how this Sovereign was ever respectful 
toward ladies, nay ! so much so that in his later days when 
some I know of were fain to give him an evil impression of 
certain very great, as well as most fair and honourable 
dames, for that these had intermeddled in some highly 
important matters of his concern, yet would he never 






credit aught against them; but did accord them as good 
favour as ever, dying at the last in their very good graces 
and with many a tear of their shedding to wet his corpse. 
And they did find good cause to say so too, so soon as 
ever King Henri III. came to succeed him, who by reason 
of sundry ill reports he had been told of these ladies when 
in Poland, did not make near so much of them as he had 
done aforetime. Both over these and over some others 
that I know of, he did exercise a very strict censorship, 
and one we may be sure that made him not more liked ; and 
indeed I do believe they did him no little hurt, and con- 
tributed in part to his evil fortune and final ruin. I 
could allege sundry special facts in proof hereof, but I 
had rather pass them over, saying only this much, that 
women generally are keen set on taking vengeance. It 
may be long in coming, but they do execute it at the last. 
On the contrary many men's revenge is just the opposite 
in its nature, for ardent and hot enough at its first begin- 
ning to deceive all, yet by dint of temporising and putting 
off and long delays it doth grow cool and come to naught. 
And this is why 'tis meet to guard against the first at- 
tempt, and take time by the forelock in parrying the 
blows ; but with women the first fury and attempt, and the 
temporising and delay, do both last out to the end, that 
is in some women, though hardly many. 

Some have been for excusing the King for the war he 
made on women in the way of crying them down, by say- 
ing 'twas in order to curb and correct vice, as if the 
curb were of any of the slightest use in these cases, seeing 
woman is so conditioned of nature as that the more this 
thing is forbid her, the more ardent is she after the same, 
and to set a watch on her is just labour lost. So in actual 




fact myself have seen how, for all he could do, they were 
never turned out of their natural road. 

Several ladies that I wot well enough, did he love and 
serve with all due respect and very high honour, and 
even a certain very great and fair Princess, 6 of whom he 
had fallen so deep in love before his going into Poland, 
that after he became King, he did resolve to wed the same, 
although she was already married to a great and gallant 
Prince, but one that was in rebellion against him and had 
fled to a foreign land to gather an army and make war 
upon him. But at the moment of his return to France, 
the lady died in child-birth. Her death alone did hinder 
the marriage, for he was firm set thereon. He would cer- 
tainly have married her by favour and dispensation of 
the Pope, who would not have refused him his consent, 
being so great a Monarch as he was, and for sundry other 
reasons that may be readily imagined. 

Others again he did make love to only for to bring the 
same into disparagement. Of such I wot of one, a great 
lady, in whose case, for the displeasures her husband had 
wrought him, and not able otherwise to get at him, the 
King did take his revenge on his wife, whom he did after 
publish abroad for what she was in the presence of a 
number of folk. Yet was this vengeance mild and merciful 
after all, for in lieu of death he did give her life. 

Another I wot of, which for overmuch playing the wan- 
ton, as also for a displeasure she did the King, the latter 
did of set purpose pay court to. Anon without any vast 
deal of persuasion, she did grant him an assignation in a 
garden, the which he failed not to keep. But he would 
have naught else to do with her (so some folk say, but be 
sure he did find something to do with her right enough) 




but only to have her so seen offering herself in open mar- 
ket, and then to banish her from the Court with ignominy. 

He was anxious and exceeding inquisitive to know the 
life of all and every fair lady of his Court, and to pene- 
trate their secret wishes. 'Tis said he did sometimes re- 
veal one or other of his successes with women to sundry 
of his most privy intimates. Happy they! for sure the 
leavings of suchlike great monarchs must needs be very 
tasty morsels. 

The ladies did fear him greatly, as I have myself seen. 
He would either reprimand them personally, when need- 
ful, or else beg the Queen his mother so to do, who on her 
part was ready enough at the work. 'Twas not however 
that she did favour scandal-mongers, as I have shown 
above in the little examples I have there given. And pay- 
ing such heed as she did to these and showing so great 
displeasure against them, what was she not bound to do 
others which did actually compromise the good name and 
honour of her ladies? 

This monarch again was so well accustomed from his 
earliest years, as myself have seen, to hear tales of ladies 
and their gallantries (and truly myself have told him one 
or two such), and to repeat them too, yet alway in 
secret, for fear the Queen his mother should learn thereof, 
for she would never have him tell such stories to any 
others than herself, that she might check the same, so 
well accustomed was he to all this, that coming to riper 
years and full liberty, he did never lose the habit. And 
in this wise he did know how they did all live at his Court 
and in his Kingdom, or at the least many of them, and 
especially the great ladies of rank, as well as if he had 
frequented them every one. And if any there were which 




were new come to Court, accosting these most courteously 
and respectfully, yet would he tell them over such tales 
as that they would be utterly amazed at heart to know 
where he had gotten all his information, though all the 
while denying and protesting against the whole budget to 
his face. And if he did divert himself after this fashion, 
yet did he not fail, in other and more weighty matters, to 
apply his visit to such high purpose as that folk have 
counted him the greatest King which for an hundred 
years hath been in France, as I have writ elsewhere in a 
chapter composed expressly upon this Sovereign. 6 

Accordingly I do now say no more about him, albeit it 
may be objected to me that I have been but chary of ex- 
amples of his character on this point, and that I should 
say more, an if I be so well informed. Yea! truly, I do 
know tales enough, and some of them high-spiced; but I 
wish not to be a mere chronicler of news whether of the 
Court or of the world at large. Beside, I could never 
cloak and cover up these my tales so featly but that folk 
would see through them, and scandal come therefrom. 

Now these traducers of fair ladies be of divers sorts. 
Some do speak ill of women for some displeasure these 
have done them, though all the while they be as chaste as 
any in all the world, and instead of the pure and beau- 
teous angel they really resemble do make out a picture 
of a devil all foul and ugly with wickedness. Thus an 
honourable gentleman I have both seen and known, did 
most abominably defame a very honourable and virtuous 
lady for a slight affront she had put upon him, and did 
sorely wreak his displeasure on her. He would say thus : 
"I know quite well I am in the wrong, and do not deny 
the lady to be really most chaste and virtuous. But be 




it who it may, the woman which shall have affronted me 
in the smallest degree, though she were as chaste and pure 
as the Blessed Virgin herself, seeing I can in no other way 
bring her to book, as I would with a man, I will say every 
evil gallows thing I can think of concerning her." Yet 
surely God will be angered at such a wretch. 

Other traducers there be, which loving ladies and fail- 
ing to overcome their virtue and get aught out of them, 
do of sheer despite proclaim them public wantons. Nay! 
they will do yet worse, saying openly they have had their 
will of them, but having known them and found them too 
exceeding lustful, have for this cause left them. Myself 
have known many gentlemen of this complexion at our 
French Kings' Courts. Then again there is the case of 
women quitting right out their pretty lovers and bed 
favourites, but who presently, following the dictates of 
their fickleness and inconstancy, grow sick again and 
enamoured of others in their stead ; whereupon these same 
lovers, in despite and despair, do malign and traduce 
these poor women, there is no saying how bitterly, going 
so far even as to relate detail by detail their naughtinesses 
and wanton tricks which they have practised together, 
and to make known their blemishes which they have on 
their naked bodies, to win the better credence to their tale. 

Other men there be which, in despite because ladies do 
give to others what they refuse to them, do malign them 
with might and main, and have them watched and spied 
upon and observed, to the end they may afford the world 
the greater signs and proofs of their true speaking. 

Others again there be, which, fairly stung with jeal- 
ousy, without other cause than this, do speak ill of those 
men whom women love the most, and of the very women 





whom they themselves love fondly until they see their 
faults fully revealed. And this is one of the chiefest ef- 
fects of jealousy. Yet are such traducers not so sore to 
blame as one would at first say they were; for this their 
fault must be set down to love and jealousy; twin brother 
and sister of one and the same birth. 

Other traducers there be which are so born and bred to 
backbiting, as that rather than not backbite some one or 
other, they will speak ill of their own selves. Now, think 
you 'tis likely ladies' honour will be spared in the mouth 
of folks of this kidney? Many suchlike have I seen at the 
Courts of our Kings, which being afeared to speak of men 
by reason of their sword play, would raise up scandal 
around the petticoats of poor weak women, which have 
no other means of reprisal but tears, regrets and empty 
words. Yet have I known not a few which have come off 
very ill at this game; for there have been kinsmen, broth- 
ers, friends, lovers of theirs, even husbands, which have 
made many repent of their spite, and eat and swallow 
down their foul words. 

Finally, did I but tell of all the diverse sorts of de- 
tractors of ladies, I should never have done. 

An opinion I have heard many maintain as to love is 
this: that a love kept secret is good for naught, an if it 
be not in some degrees manifest, if not to all, at the least 
to a man's most privy friends. But an if it cannot be 
told to all, yet at the least must some show be made 
thereof, whether by display of favours, wearing of fair 
ladies' liveries and colours, or acts of knightly prowess, 
as tiltings at the ring, tourneys, mascarades, fights in the 
lists, even to fights in good earnest when at the wars. 





Verily the content of a man is great at these satisfac- 

For to tell truth, what would it advantage a great Cap- 
tain to have done a fine and signal exploit of war, if not 
a word were said and naught known thereof? I ween 
'twould be a mortal vexation to him. The like would 
rightly seem to be the case with lovers which do love 
nobly, as some at any rate maintain. And of this opin- 
ion was that prince of lovers, M. de Nemours, the para- 
gon of all knighthood; for truly if ever Prince, great 
Lord or simple gentleman, hath been fortunate in love, 
'twas he. He found no pleasure in hiding his successes 
from his most privy friends, albeit from the general he 
did keep the same so secret, as that only with much diffi- 
culty could folk form a judgment thereanent. 

In good sooth, for married ladies is the revealing of 
such matters highly dangerous. On the other hand for 
maids and widows, which are to marry, 'tis of no account ; 
for that the cloak and pretext of a future marriage doth 
cover up all sins. 

I once knew a very honourable gentleman at Court, 
which being lover of a very great lady, and finding himself 
one day in company of a number of his comrades in dis- 
course as to their mistresses, and agreeing together to 
reveal the favours received of them to each other, the said 
gentleman did all through refuse to declare his mistress, 
and did even feign quite another lady to be his dear, and 
so threw dust in their eyes, and this although there was 
present in the group a great Prince, which did conjure 
him to tell the truth, having yet some suspicion of the 
secret intrigue he was engaged in. But neither he nor his 
companions could draw anything more out of him, al- 




though in his inmost heart he did curse his fate an hundred 
times over, which had so constrained him not to reveal, 
like the rest of them, his success and triumph, ever more 
sweet to tell of than defeat. 

Another I once knew, and a right gallant gentleman, 
by reason of his presumption and overmuch freedom of 
speech in proclaiming of his mistress* name, the which he 
should have held sacred, as much by signs and tokens as 
by actual words, did come parlous near his death in a 
murderous attack he but barely escaped from. Yet after- 
ward on another count he did not so escape the assassins' 
swords, but did presently die of the hurt they gave him. 

Myself was at Court in the time of King Francis II. 
when the Comte de Saint- Aignan did wed at Fontainebleau 
with young Madame la Bourdaisiere. 7 Next day, the 
bridegroom having come into the King's apartment, each 
and all of the courtiers present did begin to vent their 
japes on him. Amongst others a certain great Lord and 
very gallant soldier did ask him how may stages he had 
made. The husband replied five. As it fell out, there 
was also there present an honourable gentleman, a Secre- 
tary, which was then in the very highest favour with a 
very great Princess, whose name I will not give, who here- 
upon declared, 'twas nothing much, considering the fair 
road he had travelled and the fine weather he had, for it 
was summer-time. The great Lord then said to him, 
"Ho! my fine fellow, you 'Id be for having birds enough 
to your bag, it seems!" "And prithee, why not?" re- 
torted the Secretary. "By God! why! I have taken a 
round dozen in four and twenty hours on the most fairest 
meadow is in all this neighbourhood, or can be anywhere 
in all France." Who more astounded than the said Lord, 




who did learn by these words a thing he had longwhile 
suspected ? And seeing that himself was deep in love with 
this same Princess, he was exceeding mortified to think 
how he had so long hunted in this quarter without ever 
getting aught, whereas the other had been so lucky in his 
sport. This the Lord did dissimulate for the moment; 
but later, after long brooding over his resentment, he had 
paid him back hot and strong in his own coin but for a 
certain consideration that I prefer not to mention. Yet 
did he ever after bear him a secret grudge. Indeed, an 
if the Secretary had been really well advised, he would 
never have so boasted of his bag, but would rather have 
kept the thing very secret, especially in so high and bril- 
liant an adventure, whereof trouble and scandal were ex- 
ceeding like to arise. 

What should we say of a certain gentleman of the great 
world, which for some displeasure his mistress had done 
him, was so insolent as that he went and showed her 
husband the lady's portrait, which she had given him, and 
which he carried hung at his neck. The husband did ex- 
hibit no small astonishment, and thereafter showed him 
less loving toward his wife, who yet did contrive to gloze 
over the matter as well as she could. 

Still more to blame was a great Lord I wot of, who dis- 
gusted at some trick his mistress had played on him, did 
stake her portrait at dice and lose it to one of his soldiers, 
for he was in command of a large company of infantry. 
Hearing thereof, the lady came nigh bursting with vexa- 
tion, and was exceeding angered. The Queen Mother did 
presently hear of it, and did reprimand him for what he 
had done, on the ground that the scorn put on her was 
far too extreme, so to go and abandon to the chance of 





the dice the portrait of a fair and honourable lady. But 
the Lord did soon set the matter in a better light, de- 
claring how that in his hazard, he had kept back the 
parchment inside, and had staked only the box encasing 
the same, which was of gold and enriched with precious 
stones. Myself have many a time heard the tale discussed 
between the lady and the said Lord in right merry wise, 
and have whiles laughed my fill thereat. 

Hereanent will I say one thing: to wit, that there be 
ladies, and myself have known sundry such, which in 
their loves do prefer to be defied, threatened, and eke 
bullied ; and a man will in this fashion have his way with 
them better far than by gentle dealings and complacen- 
cies. Just as with fortresses, some be taken by sheer 
force of arms, others by gentler means. Yet will no 
women endure to be reviled and cried out upon as whores ; 
for such words be more offensive to them than the things 
they do represent. 

Sulla would never forgive the city of Athens, nor refrain 
from the utter overthrow of the same root and branch, 
not by reason of the obstinacy of its defence against him, 
but solely because from the top of the walls thereof the 
citizens had foully abused his wife Metella and touched 
her honour to the quick. 

In certain quarters, the which I will not name, the sol- 
diery in skirmishes and sieges of fortified places were 
used, the one side against the other, to cast reproach 
upon the virtue of two of their sovereign Princesses, going 
so far as to cry forth one to the other: "Your Princess 
doth play ninepins fine and well!" "And yours is down- 
right good at a main too !" By dint of these aspersions 
and bywords were the said Princesses cause of rousing 





them to do havoc and commit cruelties more than any 
other reason whatever, as I have myself seen. 

I have heard it related how that the chiefest motive 
which did most animate the Queen of Hungary to light 
up those her fierce fires of rage about Picardy and other 
regions of France was to revenge sundry insolent and 
foul-mouthed gossips, which were forever telling of her 
amours, and singing aloud through all the countryside the 
refrain : 

Au, au Barbanson, 

Et la reine d'Ongrie, 

a coarse song at best, and in its loud-voiced ribaldry 
smacking strong of vagabond and rustic wit. 


|ATO could never stomach Caesar from that 
day when in the Senate, which was deliber- 
ating as to measures against Catiline and his 
conspiracy, Caesar being much suspected of 
being privy to the plot, there was brought in to the latter 
under the rose a little packet, or more properly speaking 
a billet doux, the which Servilia, Cato's sister, did send 
for to fix an assignation and meeting place. Cato now 
no more doubting of the complicity of Caesar with Cati- 
line, did cry out loud that the Senate should order him 
to show the communication in question. Thus con- 
strained, Caesar made the said letter public, wherein the 
honour of the other's sister was brought into sore scan- 
dal and open disrepute. I leave you then to imagine if 
Cato, for all the fine airs he did affect of hating Caesar 



for the Republic's sake, could ever come to like him, in 
view of this most compromising incident. Yet was it no 
fault of Caesar's, for he was bound to show the letter, and 
that on risk of his life. And I ween Servilia bare him no 
special ill-will for this; for in fact and deed they ceased 
not to carry on still their loving intercourse, whereof 
sprang Brutus, whose father Caesar was commonly re- 
puted to have been. If so, he did but ill requite his parent 
for having given him being. 

True it is, ladies in giving of themselves to great men, 
do run many risks ; and if they do win of the same favours, 
and high privileges and much wealth, yet do they buy all 
these at a great price. 

I have heard tell of a very fair lady, honourable and of 
a good house, though not of so great an one as a certain 
great Lord, who was deep in love with her. One day 
having found the lady in her chamber alone with her 
women, and seated on her bed, after some converse be- 
twixt them and sundry conceits concerning love, the Lord 
did proceed to kiss the lady and did by gentle constraint 
lay her down upon the bed. Anon coming to the main 
issue, and she enduring that same with quiet, civil firmness, 
she did say thus to him : " 'Tis a strange thing how you 
great Lords cannot refrain you from using your author- 
ity and privileges upon us your inferiors. At the least, 
if only silence were as common with you as is freedom of 
speech, you would be but too desirable and excusable. I 
do beg you therefore, Sir! to hold secret what you do, 
and keep mine honour safe." 

Such be the words customarily employed by ladies of 
inferior station to their superiors. "Oh ! my Lord," they 
cry, "think at any rate of mine honour." Others say, 



"Ah! my dear Lord, an if you speak of this, I am un- 
done ; in Heaven's name safeguard mine honour." Others 
again, "Why ! my good Lord ! if only you do say never a 
word and mine honour be safe, I see no great objection," 
as if wishing to imply thereby a man may do what he 
please, an if it be in secret. So other folk know naught 
about it, they deem themselves in no wise dishonoured. 

Ladies of higher rank and more proud station do say 
to their gallants, if inferior to themselves: "Be you ex- 
ceeding careful not to breathe one word of the thing, no 
matter how small. Else it is a question of your life; I 
will have you thrown in a sack into the water, or assas- 
sinated, or hamstrung;" such and suchlike language do 
they hold. In fact there is never a lady, of what rank 
soever she be, that will endure to be evil spoke of or her 
good name discussed however slightly in the Palace or in 
men's mouths. Yet are there some others which be so ill- 
advised, or desperate, or entirely carried away of love, 
as that without men bringing any charge against them, 
they do traduce their own selves. Of such sort was, no 
long while agone, a very fair and honourable lady, of a 
good house, with the which a great Lord did fall deep in 
love, and presently enjoying her favours, did give her a 
very handsome and precious bracelet. This she was so 
ill-advised as to wear commonly on her naked arm above 
the elbow. But one day her husband, being to bed with 
her, did chance to discover the same; and examining it, 
found matter enough therein to cause him to rid him of 
her by a violent death. A very foolish and ill-advised 
woman truly ! 

I knew at another time a very great and sovereign 
Prince who after keeping true to a mistress, one of the 



fairest ladies of the Court, by the space of three years, 
at the end of that time was obliged to go forth on an 
expedition for to carry out some conquest. Before start- 
ing, he did of a sudden fall deep in love with a very fair 
and honourable Princess, if ever there was one. Then 
for to show her he had altogether quitted his former mis- 
tress for her sake, and wishing to honour and serve her 
in every way, without giving a second thought to the 
memory of his old love, he did give her before leaving all 
the favours, jewels, rings, portraits, bracelets and other 
such pretty things which his former mistress had given 
him. Some of these being seen and noted of her, she came 
nigh dying of vexation and despite; yet did she not re- 
frain from divulging the matter; for if only she could 
bring ill repute on her rival, she was ready to suffer the 
same scandal herself. I do believe, had not the said Prin- 
cess died some while after, that the Prince, on his coming 
back from abroad, would surely have married her. 

I knew yet another Prince, 1 though not so great an one, 
which during his first wife's lifetime and during his widow- 
hood, did come to love a very fair and honourable damsel 
of the great world, to whom he did make, in their court- 
ing and love time, most beautiful presents, neck-chains, 
rings, jewels and many other fine ornaments, and amongst 
others a very fine and richly framed mirror wherein was 
set his own portrait. Well! presently this same Prince 
came to wed a very fair and honourable Princess of the 
great world, who did make him lose all taste for his first 
mistress, albeit neither fell aught below the other for 
beauty. The Princess did then so work upon and strongly 
urge the Prince her husband, as that he did anon send to 




demand back of his former mistress all he had ever given 
her of fairest and most rich and rare. 

This was a very sore chagrin to the lady ; yet was she 
of so great and high an heart, albeit she was no Princess, 
though of one of the best houses in France, as that she 
did send him back all that was most fair and exquisite, 
wherein was a beautiful mirror with the picture of the 
said Prince. But first, for to decorate the same still bet- 
ter, she did take a pen and ink, and did scrawl inside a 
great pair of horns for him right in the mid of the fore- 
head. Then handing the whole to the gentleman, the 
Prince's messenger, she spake thuswise to him: "Here, 
my friend, take this to your master, and tell him I do 
hereby send him back all he ever gave me, and that I have 
taken away nor added naught, unless it be something he 
hath himself added thereto since. And tell yonder fair 
Princess, his wife, which hath worked on him so strongly 
to demand back all his presents of me, that if a certain 
great Lord (naming him by name, and myself do know 
who it was) had done the like by her mother, and had 
asked back and taken from her what he had many a time 
and oft given her for sleeping with him, by way of love 
gifts and amorous presents, she would be as poor in gew- 
gaws and jewels as ever a young maid at Court. Tell 
her, that for her own head, the which is now so loaded at 
the expense of this same Lord and her mother's belly, she 
would then have to go scour the gardens every morning 
for to pluck flowers to deck it withal, instead of jewelry. 
Well! let her e'en make what show and use she will of 
them ; I do freely give them up to her." Any which hath 
known this fair lady will readily understand she was such 
an one as to have said as much; and herself did tell me 





she did, and very free of speech she aye was. Yet could 
she not fail but feel it sore, whether from husband or 
wife, to be so ill treated and deceived. And the Princess 
was blamed of many folk, which said 'twas her own fault, 
to have so despitefully used and driven her to despera- 
tion the poor lady, the which had well earned such pres- 
ents by the sweat of her body. 

This lady, for that she was one of the most beautiful 
and agreeable women of her time, failed not, notwithstand- 
ing she had so sacrificed her virtue to this Prince, to 
make a good marriage with a very rich man, though not 
her equal in family. So one day, the twain being come to 
mutual reproaches as to the honour they had done each 
the other in marrying, and she making a point of the high 
estate she was of and yet had married him, he did retort, 
"Nay ! but I have done more for you than you have done 
for me; for I have dishonoured myself for to recover 
your honour for you;" meaning to infer by this that, 
whereas she had lost hers when a girl, he had won it back 
for her, by taking her to wife. 

I have heard tell, and I ween on good authority, how 
that, after King Francis I. had quitted Madame de Chas- 
teaubriand, his most favourite mistress, to take Madame 
d'Etampes, Helly by her maiden name, whom the Queen 
Regent had chosen for one of her Maids of Honour and 
did bring to the King's notice on his return from Spain 
to Bordeaux, and he did take her for his mistress, and 
left the aforesaid Madame de Chasteaubriand, as they 
say one nail doth drive out another, his new mistress 
Madame d'Etampes, did beg the King to have back from 
the Chasteaubriand all the best jewels which he had given 
her. Now this was in no wise for the price or value of the 




same, for in those days pearls and precious stones had not 
the vogue they have since gotten, but for liking of the 
graceful mottoes which had been set, imprinted and en- 
graven thereon, the which the Queen of Navarre, his sis- 
ter, had made and composed ; for she was a past mistress 
of this art. So King Francis did grant her prayer, and 
promising he would do this, was as good as his word. To 
this end he did send one of his gentlemen to her for to 
demand their return, but she on the instant did feign her- 
self sick and appointed the gentleman to come again in 
three days' time, when he should have what he craved. 
Meantime, in her despite, she did send for a goldsmith, 
and had him melt down all the jewels, without any regard 
or thought of the dainty devices which were engraven 
thereon. Then anon, when the messenger was returned, 
she did give him all the ornaments converted and changed 
into gold ingots. "Go, carry this," she said, "to the 
King, and tell him that, as it hath pleased his Majesty 
to ask back what he did erst so generously give me, I do 
now return and send back the same in gold ingots. As 
for the mottoes and devices, these I have so well conned 
over and imprinted on my mind, and do hold them so 
dear, as that I could in no wise suffer any other should 
use or enjoy the same and have delight therein but my- 

When the King had received the whole, ingots and mes- 
sage and all, he made no other remark but only this, 
"Nay! give her back the whole. What I was for doing, 
'twas not for the worth of the gold (for I would have 
gladly given her twice as much), but for liking of the 
devices and mottoes; but seeing she hath so destroyed 
these, I care not for the gold, and do return it her again. 




Herein hath she shown more greatness and boldness of 
heart than ever I had dreamed could come of a woman." 
A noble-spirited lady's heart, chagrined so and scorned, 
is capable of great things. 

These Princes which do so recall their presents act much 
otherwise than did once Madame de Nevers, of the house 
of Bourbon, daughter of M. de Montpensier. This same 
was in her day a very prudent, virtuous and beautiful 
Princess, and held for such both in France and Spain, in 
which latter country she had been brought up along with 
Queen Elisabeth of France, being her cup-bearer and 
giving her to drink ; for it must be known this Queen was 
aye served by her gentlewomen, dames and damsels, and 
each had her rank and office, the same as we Courtiers in 
attendance on our Kings. This Princess was married to 
the Comte d'Eu, eldest son of M. de Nevers, she worthy of 
him as he was right well worthy of her, being one of the 
handsomest and most pleasing Princes of his time. For 
which cause was he much loved and sought after of many 
fair and noble ladies of the Court, amongst others of one 
which was both this, and a very adroit and clever woman 
to boot. Now it befell one day that the Prince did take 
a ring from off his wife's finger, a very fine one, a diamond 
worth fifteen hundred or mayhap two thousand crowns, 
the which the Queen of Spain had given her on her quitting 
her Court. This ring the Prince, seeing how his mistress 
did admire it greatly and did show signs of coveting its 
possession, being very free-handed and generous, did 
frankly offer her, giving her to understand he had won the 
same at tennis. Nor did she refuse the gift, but taking 
it as a great mark of affection, did always wear it on her 
finger for love of him. And thus Madame de Nevers, 




who did understand from her good husband that he had 
lost the ring at tennis, or at any rate that it was lying 
pawned, came presently to see the same on the hand of her 
rival, whom she was quite well aware was her husband's 
mistress. Yet was she so wise and prudent and had such 
command of herself, as that, merely changing colour 
somewhat and quietly dissembling her chagrin, without any 
more ado she did turn her head another way, and did 
breathe never a word of the matter either to her husband 
or his mistress. Herein was she much to be commended, 
for that she did show no cross-grained, vixenish temper, 
nor anger, nor yet expose the younger lady to public 
scorn, as not a few others I wot of would have done, thus 
delighting the company and giving them occasion for gos- 
sip and scandal-mongering. 

Thus we see how necessary is moderation in such matters 
and how excellent a thing, as also that here no less than 
elsewhere doth luck and ill-luck prevail. For some ladies 
there be which cannot take one step aside or make the very 
smallest stumble in the path of virtue, or taste of love but 
with the tip of their finger, but lo ! they be instantly tra- 
duced, exposed and satirized right and left. 

Others again there be which do sail full before the wind 
over the sea and pleasant waters of Venus, and with naked 
body and wide spread limbs do swim with wide strokes 
therein, wantoning in its waves, voyaging toward Cyprus 
and the Temple of Venus there and her gardens, and taking 
their fill of delight in love ; yet deuce a word doth any say 
about them, no more than if they had never been born. 
Thus doth fortune favour some and mislike others in mat- 
ter of scandal-making; myself have seen not a few ex- 
amples thereof in my day, and some be found still. 


. * . ':. .44...... 4. .. **. 


In the time of King Charles was writ a lampoon at 
Fontainbleau, most base and scurrilous, wherein the fellow 
did spare neither the Royal Princesses nor the very great- 
est ladies nor any others. And verily, an if the true 
author had been known, he would have found himself 
in very ill case. 

At Blois moreover, whenas the marriage of the Queen 
of Navarre was arranged with the King, her husband, was 
made yet another, against a very great and noble lady, 
and a most scurrilous one, whereof the author was never 
discovered. But there were really some very brave and 
valiant gentlemen mixed up therein, which however did 
carry it off very boldly and made many loud general de- 
nials. So many others beside were writ, as that naught 
else was seen whether in this reign or in that of King 
Henri III. and above all one most scurrilous one in the 
form of a song, and to the tune of a coranto which was 
then commonly danced at Court, and hence came to be 
sung among the pages and lackeys on every note, high and 


|N the days of our King Henri III. was a yet 
worse thing done. A certain gentleman, whom 
I have known both by name and person, did 
one day make a present to his mistress of a 
book of pictures, wherein were shown two and thirty ladies 
of high or middling rank about the Court, painted in true 
colours, a-bed and sporting with their lovers, who were 
likewise represented and that in the most natural way. 
Some had two or three lovers, some more, some less ; and 
these thirty-two ladies did figure forth more than seven 




and twenty of the figures or postures of Aretino, and all 
different. The actors were so well represented and so 
naturally, as that they did seem actually to be speaking 
and doing. While some were disrobed, other were shown 
clad in the very same clothes, and with the same head- 
dresses, ornaments and weeds as they were commonly 
to be seen wearing. In a word, so cunningly was the book 
wrought and painted that naught could be more curious ; 
and it had cost eight or nine hundred crowns, and was 
illuminated throughout. 

Now this lady did show it one day and lend it to an- 
other, her comrade and bosom friend, which latter was 
much a favourite and familiar of a great Lady that was 
in the book, and one of the most vividly and vigorously rep- 
resented there; so seeing how much it concerned herself, 
she did give her best attention. Then being curious of all 
experience, she was fain to look it over with another, a 
great lady, her cousin and chief est friend, who had begged 
her to afford her the enjoyment of the sight, and who was 
likewise in the pictures, like the rest. 

So the book was examined very curiously and with the 
greatest care, leaf by leaf, without passing over a single 
one lightly, so that they did spend two good hours of the 
afternoon at the task. The fair ladies, far from being 
annoyed or angered thereat, did find good cause for 
mirth therein, seeing them to admire the pictures mightily, 
and gaze at them fixedly. 

These two dames were bolder and more valiant and 
determined than one I have heard tell of, who one day 
looking at this same book with two others of her friends, so 
ravished with delight was she and did enter into such an 
ecstasy of love and so burning a desire to imitate these 




same luscious pictures, as that she cannot see out of her 
eyes till the fourth page, and at the fifth did fall in a 
dead faint. A terrible swoon truly ! very different to that 
of Octavia, sister of Caesar Augustus, who one day hearing 
Virgil recite the three verses he had writ on her dead son 
Marcellus (for which she did give him three thousand 
crowns for the three alone) did incontinently swoon right 
away. That was love indeed, but of how different a 

I have heard tell, in the days when I was at Court, of 
a great Prince of the highest rank, old and well stricken 
in years, and who ever since the loss of his wife had borne 
him very continently in his widowhood, as indeed was but 
consistent with his high repute for sanctity of life. At 
last he was fain to marry again with a very fair, virtuous 
and young Princess. But seeing how for the ten years he 
had been a widower he had never so much as touched a 
woman, and fearing to have forgot the way of it (as 
though it were an art that a man may forget), and to 
get a rebuff the first night of his wedlock, and perform 
naught of his desire, was anxious to make a previous essay. 
So by dint of money he did win over a fair young maid, a 
virgin like the wife he was to marry; nay more, 'tis said 
he had her chosen to resemble somewhat in features his 
future wife. Fortune was so kind to him that he did 
prove he had by no means forgot as yet his old skill ; and 
his essay was so successful that, bold and happy, he did 
advance to his wife's fortress, and won good victory and 
high repute. 

This essay was more successful than that of another 
gentleman whose name I have heard, whom his father, 
although he was very young and much of a simpleton, 



did desire should marry. Well ! first of all he was for mak- 
ing an essay, to know if he would be a good mate with his 
wife; so for this end, some months aforehand, he did get 
him a pretty-faced harlot, whom he made to come every 
afternoon to his father's warren, for 'twas summer-time, 
where he did frisk and make sport with the damsel in the 
freshness of the green trees and a gushing fountain in 
such wise that he did perform wonders. Thus encouraged, 
he feared no man, but was ready enough to play the like 
bold part with his wife. But the worst of it was that when 
the marriage night was come, and it was time to go with 
his wife, lo! he cannot do a thing. Who so astonished 
as the poor youth, and who so ready to cry out upon his 
accursed recreant weapon, which had so missed fire in 
the new spot where he now was. Finally plucking up his 
courage, he said thus to his wife, "My pretty one, I cannot 
tell what this doth mean, for every day I have done won- 
ders in the warren," and so recounted over his deeds of 
prowess to her. "Let us to sleep now, and my advice is, 
to-morrow after dinner I will take you thither, and you 
shall see very different sport." This he did, and his wife 
found him as good as his word. Hence the saying cur- 
rent at Court, "Ha, ha! an if I had you in my father's 
warren, you should see what I would do !" We can only 
suppose that the god of gardens, Dan Priapus, and the 
fauns and wanton satyrs which haunt the woods, do there 
aid good fellows and favour their deeds of prowess. 

Yet are not all essays alike, nor do all end favorably. 
For in matter of love, I have both seen and heard tell of 
not a few good champions which have failed to remember 
their lessons and keep their engagements when they came 
to the chief task of all. For while some be either too 




hot or too cold, in such wise that these humours, of ice or 
of fire, do take them of a sudden, others be lost in an 
ecstasy to find so sovran a treat within their arms ; others 
again grow over fearful, others get instantly and totally 
flaccid and impotent, without the least knowing the rea- 
son why, and yet others find themselves actually para- 
lysed. In a word there be so many unexpected accidents 
which may occur just at the wrong moment, that if I 
were to tell them all, I should not have done for ages. 
I can only refer me to many married folk and other ama- 
teurs of love, who can say an hundred times more of all 
this than I. Now such essays be good for the men, but 
not for the women. Thus I have heard tell of a mother, 
a lady of quality, who holding very dear an only daugh- 
ter she had, and having promised the same in marriage to 
an honourable gentleman, avant que de 1'y faire entrer 
et craignant qu'elle ne put souffrir ce premier et dur 
effort, a quoi on disait le gentilhomme etre tres rude et 
fort proportionne, elle la fit essayer premierement par un 
jeune page qu'elle avait, assez grandet, une douzaine de 
fois, disant qu'il n'y avait que la premiere ouverture 
facheuse a faire et que, se faisant un peu douce et petite 
au commencement, qu'elle endurerait la grande plus 
aisement; comme il advint, et qu'il y put avoir de 1'ap- 
parence. Get essai est encore bien plus honnete et moins 
scandaleux qu'un qui me fut dit une fois, en Italic, d'un 
pere qui avait marie son fils, qui tait encore un jeune sot, 
avec une fort belle fille a laquelle, tant fat qu'il tait, il 
n'avait rien pu faire ni la premiere ni la seconde nuit de 
ses noces; et comme il eut demand^ et au fils et a la nore 
comme ils se trouvaient en mariage et s'ils avaient 
triomphe, ils repondirent Pun et 1'autre: "Niente. A 




quoi a-t-il tenu?" demanda a son fils. H repondit tout 
follement qu'il ne savait comment il fallait faire. Sur 
quoi il prit son fils par une main et la nore par une autre 
et les mena tous deux en une chambre et leur dit: "Or 
je vous veux done montrer comme il faut faire." Et fit 
coucher sa nore sur un bout de lit, et lui fait bien elargir 
les jambes, et puis dit a son fils: "Or vois comment je 
fais," et dit a sa nore: "Ne bougez, non importe, il n'y 
a point de mal." Et en mettant son membre bien arbore" 
dedans, dit: "Avise bien comme je fais et comme je dis, 
Dentro fuero, dentro fuero," et repliqua souvent ces deux 
mots en s'avan9ant dedans et reculant, non pourtant tout 
dehors. Et ainsi, apres ces frequentes agitations et 
paroles, dentro et fuero, quand ce vint a la consommation, 
il se mit a dire brusquement et vite: Dentro, dentro, 
dentro, dentro, jusqu'a ce qu'il eut fait. Au diable le 
mot de fuero. Et par ainsi, pensant faire du magister, 
il fut tout a plat adultere de sa nore, laquelle, ou qu'elle 
fit de la niaise ou, pour mieux dire, de la fine, s'en trouva 
tres bien pour ce coup, voire pour d'autres que lui donna 
le fils et le pere et tout, possible pour lui mieux apprendre 
sa le^on, laquelle il ne uli voulut pas apprendre a demi 
ni a moitie, mais a perfection. Aussi toute Ie9on ne vaut 
rieu autrement. 

I have heard many enterprising and successful Love- 
laces declare how that they have often seen ladies in 
these faints and swoonings, yet always readily coming 
to again afterward. Many women, they said, do cry 
out: "Alackaday! I am a-dying!" but 'tis, I ween, a 
mighty agreeable sort of death. Others there be which 
do turn back their eyes in their head for excess of pleas- 
ure, as if about to expire outright, and let themselves 




:: :!Ayj:/tf>8t!l^lvW!V^^^ 

go absolutely motionless and insensible. Others I have 
been told do so stiffen and spasmodically contract their 
nerves, arteries and limbs, as that they do bring on cramp ; 
as one lady I have heard speak of, which was so subject 
thereto she could never be cured. 

Anent these same swoonings, I have heard tell of a 
fair lady, which was being embraced by her lover on top 
of a large chest or coffer. Very suddenly and unavoidably 
for herself, she did swoon right off in such wise that she 
did let herself slide behind the coffer with legs projected 
in the air, and getting so entangled betwixt the coffer 
and the tapestry of the wall, that while she was yet 
struggling to free herself and her cavalier helping her, 
there entered some company and so surprised her in this 
forked-radish attitude. These had time enough to see all 
she had, which was all very pretty and dainty however, 
and all the poor woman could do was to cover herself 
up as best she might, saying so and so had pushed her, as 
they were playing, behind the coffer, and declaring how 
that she would never like the fellow again for it. 

Cette dame courut bien plus grande fortune qu'une que 
j'ai oui dire, laquelle, alors que son ami la tenait em- 
brassee et investie sur le bord de son lit, quand ce vint 
sur la douce fin qu'il eut acheve" et que par trop il 
s'etendait, il avait par cas des escarpins neufs qui avaient 
la semelle glissante, et s'appuyant sur des carreaux 
plombes dont la chambre etait pavee, qui sont fort sujets 
a faire glisser, il vint a se couler et glisser si bien sans se 
pouvoir arreter que, du pourpoint qu'il avait, tout recon- 
vert de clinquant, il en ecorcha de telle fa9on le ventre, la 
motte le cas et les cuisses de sa maitresse que vous eussiez 
dit que les griff es d'un chat y avaient passe ; ce qui cuisait 





si fort la dame qu'elle en fit un grand cri et ne s'en put 
garder ; mais le meilleur flit que la dame, parce que c'etait 
en ete et faisait grand chaud, s'etait mise en appareil un 
peu plus lubrique que les autres fois, car elle n'avait que 
sa chemise bien blanche et un manteau de satin blanc 
dessus, et les calecons k part e si bien que le gentilhomme. 

The lady told the story to one of her female friends, 
and the gentleman to one of his comrades. So the thing 
came to be known, from being again repeated over to 
others ; for indeed 'twas a right good tale and very meet 
to provoke mirth. 

And no doubt but the ladies, whenas they be alone, 
among their most privy bosom-friends, do repeat merry 
tales, everywhit as much as we men-folk do, and tell each 
other their amorous adventures and all their most secret 
tricks and turns, and afterward laugh long and loud 
over the same, making fine fun of their gallants, when- 
ever these be guilty of some silly mistake or commit some 
ridiculous and foolish action. 

Yea! and they do even better than this. For they do 
filch their lovers the one from the other, and this some- 
times not so much for passion's sake, but rather for to 
draw from them all their secrets, the pretty games and 
naughty follies they have practised with them. These 
they do then turn to their own advantage, whether still 
further to stir their ardour, or by way of revenge, or to 
get the better one of the other in their privy debates 
and wranglings when they be met together. 

In the days of this same King Henri III. was made that 
satire without words consisting of the book of pictures 
I have spoke of above, of sundry ladies in divers postures 
and connections with their gallants. 'Twas exceeding 




base and scurrilous, for the which see the above passage 
wherein I have described the same. 

Well! enough said on this matter. I could wish from 
my heart that not a few evil tongues in this our land of 
France could be chastened and refrain them from their 
scandal-making, and comport them more after the Span- 
ish fashion. For no man there durst, on peril of his 
life, to make so much as the smallest reflection on the 
honour of ladies of rank and reputation. Nay! so 
scrupulously are they respected that on meeting them in 
any place whatsoever, an if the faintest cry is raised of 
lugar a las damas, every man doth lout low and pay them 
all honour and reverence. Before them is all insolence 
straitly forbid on pain of death. 

Whenas the Empress, 1 wife of the Emperor Charles, 
made his entry into Toledo, I have heard tell how that 
the Marquis de Villena, one of the great Lords of Spain, 
for having threatened an alguasil, which had forcibly 
hindered him from stepping forward, came nigh being 
sore punished, because the threat was uttered in pres- 
ence of the Empress ; whereas, had it been merely in the 
Emperor's, no such great ado would have been made. 

The Due de Feria being in Flanders, and the Queens 
Eleanor and Marie taking the air abroad, and their 
Court ladies following after them, it fell out that as he 
was walking beside them, he did come to words with an 
other Spanish knight. For this the pair of them came 
very nigh to losing their lives, more for having made 
such a scandal before the Queen and Empress than for 
any other cause. 

The same befell Don Carlos d'Avalos at Madrid, as 
Queen Isabelle of France was walking through the town; 


. * M^rwiw>iviiyiw8\ii7i\iiwr^ 


and had he not sped instantly into a Church which doth 
there serve as sanctuary for poor unfortunate folk, he 
had been straightway put to death. The end was he had 
to fly in disguise, and leave Spain altogether; and was 
kept in banishment all his life long and confined in the 
most wretched islet of all Italy, Lipari to wit. 

Court jesters even, which have usually full license of 
free speech, an if they do assail the ladies, do get some- 
what to remember. It did so fall out one time to a Fool 
called Legat, whom I once knew myself. Queen Elizabeth 
of France once in conversation speaking of the houses 
at Madrid and Valladolid, how charming and agreeable 
these were, did declare she wished with all her heart the 
two places were so near she could e'en touch one with one 
foot and the other with the other, spreading her legs very 
wide open as she said the words. The Fool, who heard 
the remark, cried, "And I should dearly wish to be in 
betwixt, con un carrajo de borrico, para encarguar y 
plantar la raya," that is, "with a fool's cudgel to mark 
and fix the boundary withal." For this he was soundly 
whipped in the kitchens. Yet was he well justified in 
forming such a wish ; for truly was she one of the fairest, 
most agreeable and honourable ladies was ever in all 
Spain, and well deserving to be desired in this fashion, 
only of folk more honourable than he an hundred thou- 
sand times. 

I ween these fine slanderers and traducers of ladies 
would dearly love to have and enjoy the same privilege 
and license the vintagers do possess in the country parts 
of Naples at vintage time. These be allowed, so long as 
the vintage dureth, to shout forth any sort of vile word 
and insult and ribaldry to all that pass that way, coming 



and going on the roads. Thus will you see them crying 
and screaming after all wayfarers and vilifying the same, 
without sparing any, whether great, middling or humble 
folk, of what estate soever they be. Nor do they spare, 
and this is the merry part on't, the ladies one whit 
neither, high-born dames or Princesses or any. Indeed 
in my day I did there hear of not a few fine ladies, and 
see them too, which would make a pretext to hie them to 
the fields on purpose, so as they might pass along the 
roads, and so hearken to this pretty talk and hear a thou- 
sand naughty conceits and lusty words. These the peas- 
ants would invent and roll off in plenty, casting up at 
the great ladies their naughtiness and the shameful ways 
they did use toward their husbands and lovers, going so 
far as to chide them for their shameful loves and inti- 
macies with their own coachmen, pages, lackeys and ap- 
paritors, which were of their train. Going yet further, 
they would ask them right out for the courtesy of their 
company, saying they would assault them roundly and 
satisfy them better than all the others could. All this 
they would let out in words of a fine, natural frankness 
and bluntness, without any sort of glossing or disguis- 
ing. The ladies had their good laugh and pastime out 
of the thing, and there an end, making their servants 
which were with them answer back in the like strain and 
give as good as they got. The vintage once done and 
over, there is truce of suchlike language till another year, 
else would they be brought to book and sore punished. 

I am told the said custom doth still endure, and that 
many folk in France would fain have it observed there 
also at some season of the year or other, to enjoy in 





security the pleasure of their evil speaking, which they 
do love so well. 

Well! to make an end of the subject, 'tis very meet all 
ladies be respected of all men, and the secret of their 
loves and favours duly kept. This is why Pietro Aretino 
said, that when lovers were come to it, the kisses that 
man and maid did give each other were not so much for 
their mutual delight as for to join connection of the 
mouths together and so make signal betwixt them that 
they do keep hid the secret of their merry doings. Nay, 
more! that some lustful and lascivious husbands do in 
their wantonness show them so free and extravagant in 
words, as that not content with committing sundry 
naughty profligacies with their wives, they do declare 
and publish the same to their boon-companions, and 
make fine tales out of them. So much so that I have 
myself known wives which did conceive a mortal repug- 
nance to their husbands for this cause and would even 
very often refuse them the pleasures they had erst af- 
forded them. They would not have such scandalous 
things said of them, albeit 'twas but betwixt husband 
and wife. 

M. du Bellay, the poet, in his book of Latin epitaphs 
called Les Tombeaux, which he hath composed, and very 
fine it is, hath writ one on a dog, that methinks is well 
worth quoting here, for 'tis writ much in our own manner. 
It runneth thus : 

Latratu fures excepi, mutus amentes. 
Sic placui domino, sic placui dominae. 

(By my barking I did drive away thieves, with a quiet 
tongue I did greet lovers. Thus I did please my master, and 
thus my mistress.) 



Well ! if we are so to love animals for discreetness, how 
much more must we not value men for holding silence? 
And if we are to take advice on this matter of a courtesan 
which was one of the most celebrated of former days, and 
a past mistress in her art, to wit Lamia, here it is. 
Asked wherein a woman did find most satisfaction in her 
lover, she replied 'twas when he was discreet in talk and 
secret as to what he did. Above all else she said she 
did hate a boaster, one that was forever boasting of 
what he did not do, yet failing to accomplish what he 
promised, two faults, each as bad as the other. She 
was used to say further: that a woman, albeit ready 
enough to be indiscreet, would never willingly be called 
harlot, nor published abroad for such. Moreover she said 
how that she did never make merry at a man's expense, 
nor any man at hers, nor did any ever miscall her. A 
fair dame of this sort, so experienced in love's mysteries, 
may well give lessons to other women. 

Well, well ! enough said on these points. Another man, 
more eloquent than I, might have embellished and en- 
nobled the subject better far. To such I do pass on 
hereby mine arms and pen. 



/7) C 

V^oncctninci mattic3 vwomen, wtSowa ana *i 

vJuon of tocde dame <oc ucttcr tnan tnc otJW to tow. 



|NE day when I was at the Court of Spain at 
Madrid, and conversing with a very honour- 
able lady, as is the way at Kings' Courts, she 
did chance to ask me this question following: 
Qual era mayor fuego d'amor, el de la bluda, el de la 
casada, o de la hija moca, "which of the three had the 
greater heat of love, widow, wife or maid ?" After myself 
had told her mine opinion, she did in turn give me hers in 
some such terms as these : Lo que me parece d* esta cosa es 
que, aunque las mocas con el hervor de la sangre, se dis- 
ponen a querer mucho, no deve ser tanto como lo que 
quieren las casadas y biudas, con la gran experiencia del 
negocio. Esta razon debe ser natural, como lo seria la 
del que, por haver nacido ciego de la perfeccion de la luz, 
no puede cobdiciar de ella con tanto deseo como el que vio t 
y fue privado de la vista. "What I think on the matter 
is this : that albeit maids, with all that heat of blood that 
is theirs, be right well disposed to love, yet do they not 
love so well as wives and widows. This is because of the 
great experience of the business the latter have, and the 
obvious fact that supposing a man born blind, and from 




birth robbed of all power of vision, he can never desire 
the gift so strongly as he that hath sweetly enjoyed the 
same a while and then been deprived thereof." To which 
she did presently add this further remark: Con menos 
pena se abstiene ff una cosa la persona que nunca supo, 
que aquella que vive enamorada del gusto pasado "How 
that one could with a lesser ado refrain from a thing 
one had never tried, than from one already known and 
loved." Such were the reasons this lady did adduce on 
this moot point. 

Again the respected and learned Boccaccio, among the 
questions discussed in his Filicopo, doth in the ninth treat 
of this same problem: Which of these three, wife, widow 
or maid, a man should rather fall in love with, in order 
the more happily to carry his desire into effect? The 
author doth answer by the mouth of the Queen he doth 
there introduce speaking, that although 'tis of course 
very ill done and against God and one's own conscience 
to covet a married woman, which is in no sense another's, 
but subject to her husband, it is natheless far easier to 
come to the point with her than ever with maid or widow, 
albeit such love is dangerous, seeing the more a man 
doth blow the fire, the more he rouseth it, whereas other- 
wise it dieth down. Indeed all things do wane in the 
using, except only wantonness, which doth rather wax. 
But the widow, which hath been long without such exer- 
cise, doth scarce feel it at all, and doth take no more 
account of love than if she had never been married, and 
is more heated by memory of the past than by present 
concupiscence. Also the maid, which hath no knowledge 
nor experience of what it is, save by imagination, hath 
but a lukewarm longing therefor. On the other hand 




the married woman, heated more than the others, doth oft 
desire to come to the point and enjoy this pleasure, in 
spite of its sometimes bringing on her her husband's sore 
displeasure manifested in words and eke blows. For all 
this, fain to be revenged on him (for naught is so venge- 
ful as a woman), as well as for sake of the thing itself, 
doth the wife make him cuckold right out, and enjoy the 
desire of her heart. Beside, folk do soon weary of eat- 
ing ever of the same meat, and for this cause even great 
Lords and Ladies do often leave good and delicate viands 
for to take others instead. Moreover, with girls, 'tis a 
matter of overmuch pains and consumption of time to 
tame them and bring them round to the will of men ; nay ! 
an if they do love, they know not that they do. But 
with widows, the old fire doth readily recover its vigour, 
very soon making them desire once more what by reason 
of long discontinuance they had forgot the savour of. 
Thus they be not slow to come back again to the old 
delights, only regretting the time wasted and the weary 
nights of widowhood passed all alone and uncomforted 
in their cold beds. 

In answer to these arguments of the Queen, a certain 
gentleman named Faramond doth make reply. Leaving 
married women aside altogether, as being so easy to get 
the better of without a man's using any great reasoning 
to persuade them to it, he doth consider the case of maids 
and widows, maintaining the maid to be more steadfast 
in love than the widow. For the widow, who hath ex- 
perienced in the past the secrets of passion, doth never 
love steadfastly, but always doubtfully and tentatively, 
quickly changing and desiring now one, now another gal- 
lant, never knowing to which she should give herself for 




her greater advantage and honour! Nay! sometimes so 
vacillating is she in her long deliberations she doth choose 
never an one at all, and her amorous passion can find no 
steadfast hold whatever. Quite opposite is the maid, he 
saith, and all such doubts and hesitations be foreign to 
her. Her one desire is to have a lover true, and after 
once choosing him well, to give all her soul to him and 
please him in all things, deeming it the best honour she 
can do him to be true and steadfast in her love. So being 
only too ardent for the things which have never yet been 
seen, heard or proven of her, she doth long far more than 
other women which have had experience of life, to see, 
hear and prove all such matters. Thus the keen desire 
she hath to see new things doth strongly dominate her 
heart; she doth make enquiries of them that know, 
which doth increase her flame yet more. Accordingly she 
is very eager to be joined with him she hath made Lord 
of her affections, whereas this same ardour is not in the 
widow, seeing she hath passed that way already. 

Well at the last the Queen in Boccaccio, taking up the 
word again and wishing to give a final answer to the ques- 
tion, doth thus conclude: That the widow is more pains- 
taking of the pleasure of love an hundred fold than the 
virgin, seeing the latter is all for dearly guarding her 
precious virginity and maidenhead. Further, virgins be 
naturally timid, and above all in this matter, awkward 
and inept to find the sweet artifices and pretty com- 
plaisances required under divers circumstances in such 
encounters. But this is not so with the widow, who is 
already well practised, bold and ready in this art, having 
long ago bestowed and given away what the virgin doth 
make so much ado about giving. For this cause she hath 



no fear of her person being looked at, or her virtue im- 
pugned by the discovery of any mark of lapse from hon- 
our; and in all respects she doth better know the secret 
ways for to arrive at her end. Beside all this, the maid 
doth dread this first assault of her virginity, which in 
many women is sometimes rather grievous and painful 
than soft and pleasant, whereas widows have no such 
fear, but do submit themselves very sweetly and gently, 
even when the assailant be of the roughest. Now this 
particular pleasure is quite different from many others, 
for with them a man is oft satisfied with the first experi- 
ence and goeth lightly to others, whereas in this the long- 
ing to return once more to the same doth ever wax more 
and more. Accordingly the widow, which doth give least, 
but giveth it often, is an hundred times more liberal than 
the maid, when this last doth at length consent to abandon 
her most precious possession, to the which she doth direct 
a thousand thoughts and regrets. Wherefore, the Queen 
doth conclude, 'tis much better for a man to address him- 
self to a widow than to a maid, as being far easier to 
gain over and corrupt. 




|OW to take and further consider these argu- 
ments of Boccaccio, and expand them some- 
what, and discuss the same, according to the 
words I have heard spoke of many honourable 
gentlefolk, both men and women, on these matters, as 
the result of ample knowledge and experience, I declare 
there can be no doubt that any man wishing quickly to 
have fruition of love, must address him to married ladies, 
an if he would avoid great trouble and much consump- 
tion of time; for, as Boccaccio saith, the more a fire is 
stirred, the more ardent doth it grow. And 'tis the mar- 
ried woman which doth grow so hot with her husband, 
that an if he be lacking in the wherewithal to extinguish 
the fire he doth give his wife, she must needs borrow of 
another man, or burn up alive. I did once know myself 
a lady of good birth, of a great and high family, which 
did one day tell her lover, and he did repeat the tale to 
me, how that of her natural disposition she was in no 
wise keen for this pleasure so much as folk would think 
(and God wot this is keen enough), and was ready and 
willing many a time to go without, were it not that her 
husband stirring her up, while yet he was not strong 
or capable enough to properly assuage her heat, he did 
make her so fierce and hot she was bound to resort for 
succour in this pass to her lover. Nay! very often not 





getting satisfaction enough of him even, she would with- 
draw her alone, to her closet or her bed, and there in 
secrecy would cure her passion as best she might. Why ! 
she declared, had it not been for very shame, she would 
have given herself to the first she met in a ball- 
room, in any alcove, or on the very steps, so tormented 
was she with this terrible feeling. Herein was she for 
all the world like the mares on the borders of Andalusia, 
which getting so hot and not finding their stallions there 
to leap them and so unable to have satisfaction, do set 
their natural opening against the wind blowing in these 
plains, which doth so enter in and assuageth their heat 
and getteth them with foal. Hence spring those steeds 
of such fleetness we see from those regions, as though 
keeping some of the fleetness and natural swiftness of the 
wind their sire. I ween there be husbands enough would 
be right glad if their wives could find such a wind as this, 
to refresh them and assuage their heat, without their 
having to resort to their lovers and give their poor mates 
most unbecoming horns for their heads. 

Truly a strange idiosyncrasy in a woman, the one I 
have just adduced, not to burn, but when stirred of an- 
other. Yet need we be in no way astonished thereat, for 
as said a Spanish lady: Que quanta mas me quiero sacar 
de la braza, tanto mas ml marido me dbraza en el bra- 
zero, "The more I am for avoiding the embers, the more 
my husband doth burn me in my brazier." And truly 
women may well be kindled that way, seeing how by mere 
words, by touching and embracing alone, even by alluring 
looks, they do readily allow themselves to be drawn to it, 
when they find opportunity, without a thought of the 
consideration they owe their husbands. 




For, to tell the real truth, what doth most hinder every 
woman, wife or maid, from taking of this pleasure again 
and again is the dread they feel of having their belly 
swell, without eating beans, an event married ladies do 
not fear a whit. For an if they do so swell, why ! 'tis the 
poor husband that hath done it all, and getteth all the 
credit. And as for the laws of honour which do forbid 
them so to do, why ! Boccaccio doth plainly say the most 
part of women do laugh at these, alleging for reason and 
justification: that Nature's laws come first, which doth 
never aught in vain, and hath given them such excellent 
members to be used and set to work, and not to 
be left idle and unemployed. Nature neither forbid- 
deth the proper exercise of these nor imposeth disuse on 
these parts more than on any other ; else would the spiders 
be building their webs there, as I have said in another 
place, unless they do find brushes meet to sweep them away 
withal. Beside, from keeping themselves unexercised do 
very oft spring sore complaints and even dangers to life, 
and above all a choking of the womb, whereof so many 
women die as 'tis pitiful to see, and these right fair and 
honourable dames. All this for sake of this plaguey con- 
tinence, whereof the best remedy, say the doctors, is just 
carnal connection, and especially with very vigorous and 
well provided husbands. They say further, at any rate 
some of our fair ones do, that this law of honour is only 
for them that love not and have got them no true and 
honourable lovers, in whom no doubt 'tis unbecoming and 
blameworthy to go sacrifice to the chastity of their body, 
as if they were no better than courtesans. But such as 
truly love, and have gotten them lovers well chosen and 
good, this law of honour doth in no wise forbid them to 



help these to assuage the fires that burn them, and give 
them wherewithal to extinguish the same. This is verily 
and indeed for women to give life to the suppliant asking 
it, showing themselves gentle-hearted benefactresses, not 
savage and cruel tyrants. 

This is what Renaldo said, whom I have spoke of in 
a former discourse, when telling of the poor afflicted 
Ginevra. As to this, I did once know a very honourable 
lady and a great one, whom her lover did one day find in 
her closet, translating that famous stanza of the said 
Renaldo beginning, Una donna deve dunque morire, "A 
lady fair was like to die," into French verse, as fair and 
fairly wrought, as ever I have seen, for I did see the 
lines after. On his asking her what she had writ there, 
she replied: "See, a translation I have just made, which 
is at once mine own judgment by me delivered, and a sen- 
tence pronounced in your favour for to content you in 
that you desire, and only the execution doth now re- 
main ;" and this last, the reading done, was promptly car- 
ried out. A better sentence i'faith than was ever given 
in the Bailey Court of the Paris Parliament ! a For of 
all the fine words and excellent arguments wherewith 
Ariosto hath adorned Renaldo's speech, I do assure you 
the lady forgat never an one to translate and reproduce 
them all well and thoroughly, so as the translation was 
as meet as ever the original to stir the heart. Thus did 
she let her lover plainly understand she was ready enough 
to save his life, and not inexorable to his supplication, 
while he was no less apt to seize his opportunity. 

Why then shall a lady, when that Nature hath made 
her good and full of pity, not use freely the gifts given 
her, without ingratitude to the giver, and without resist- 




ance and contradiction to her laws? This was the view 
of a fair lady I have heard speak of, which watching her 
husband one day walking up and down in a great hall, 
cannot refrain her from turning to her lover and saying, 
"Just look at our good man pacing there; has not he 
the true build of a cuckold? Surely I should have gone 
sore against dame Nature, seeing she had created him 
and destined him for this, an if I had contradicted her 
intent and given her the lie !" 

I have heard speak of another lady, which did thus 
complain of her husband, which did treat her ill and was 
ever jealously spying on her, suspecting she was making 
him a set of horns : "Nay ! he is too good," she would cry 
to her lover; "he thinks his fire is a match for mine. 
Why! I do put his out in a turn of the hand, with four 
or five drops of water. But for mine, which hath a very 
different depth of furnace, I do need a flood. For we 
women be of our nature like dropsical folk or a sandy 
ditch, which the more water they swallow, the more they 

Another said yet better, how that a woman was like 
chickens, which do get the pip and die thereof, if they 
be stinted of water and have not enough to drink. A 
woman is the same, which doth breed the pip and oft die 
thereof, if they are not frequently given to drink; only 
'tis something else than spring water it must have. An- 
other fair lady was used to say she was like a good garden, 
which not content with the rain of heaven only, doth ask 
water of the gardener as well, to be made more fruitful 
thereby. Another would say she would fain resemble 
those good economists and excellent managers which do 
never give out all their property to be guided and a profit 




earned to one agent alone, but do divide it among several 
hands. One alone could not properly suffice to get good 
value. After a similar fashion was she for managing 
herself, to make the best thereof and for herself to reap 
the highest enjoyment. 

I have heard of yet another lady which had a most ill- 
favoured lover, and a very handsome husband and of a 
good grace, the lady herself being likewise very well- 
looking. One of her chiefest lady friends and gossips 
remonstrating with her and asking why she did not choose 
a handsomer lover, "Know you not," she said, "that to 
cultivate well a piece of land more than one labourer is 
wanted, and as a rule the best-looking and most dainty 
be not the most meet workers, but the most rustical and 
hardy?" Another lady I knew, which had a very ill-fa- 
voured husband and of a very evil grace, did choose a 
lover as foul as he; and when one of her friends did ask 
her the reason why, " 'Tis the better," quoth she, "to 
accustom me to mine husband's ugliness." 

Yet another lady, discoursing one day of love, as well 
her own as that of other fair ladies her companions, said : 
"An if women were alway chaste, why ! they would never 
know but one side of life," herein basing on the doctrine 
of the Emperor Heliogabalus, who was used to declare, 
"that one half of a man's life should be employed in vir- 
tues, and the other half in vices ; else being always in one 
condition, either wholly good or wholly bad, one could 
never judge of the opposite side at all, which yet doth 
oft serve the better to attemper the first." I have known 
great personages to approve this maxim, and especially 
where women were concerned. Again the wife of the 
Emperor Sigismund, who was called Barb a, was used to 




say that to be forever in one and the same condition of 
chastity was a fool woman's part, and did much reprove 
her ladies, wives or maids, which did persist in this fool- 
ish opinion, and most surely for her own part did very 
thoroughly repudiate the same. For indeed all her pleas- 
ure lay but in feasts, dances, balls and love-makings, and 
much mockery was for any which did not the like, or 
which did fast to mortify the flesh, and were for following 
a quiet life. I leave you to imagine if it went not well 
at the Court of this Emperor and Empress, I mean for 
all such, men and women, as take joy in love's pleasures. 
I have heard speak of a very honourable lady and of 
good repute, which did fairly fall ill of the love which she 
bare her lover, yet did never consent to risk the matter, 
because of this same high law of honour so much insisted 
on and preached up of husbands. But seeing how day 
by day she was more and more consumed away and burned 
up, in such wise that in a twinkling she did behold her- 
self wax dry, lean, and languishing, and from being afore- 
time fresh, plump and in good case, now all changed and 
altered, as her mirror informed her, she did at length 
cry: "Nay! how shall it be said of me that in the flower 
of mine age, and at the prompting of a mere frivolous 
point of honour and silly scruple making me overmuch 
keep in my natural fire, I did thus come to dry up and 
waste away, and grow old and ugly before my time, and 
lose all the bloom of my beauty, which did erst make me 
valued and preferred and loved. Instead of a fair lady 
of good flesh and bone I am become a skeleton, a very 
anatomy, enough to make folk banish me and jeer at me 
in any good company, a laughing-stock to all and sundry. 
No ! I will save me from such a fate ; I will use the reme- 




dies I have in my power." And herewith, what she said, 
she did, and contenting her own and her love's desires, 
she soon gat back her flesh again and grew as fair as be- 
fore, without her husband's ever suspecting the remedy 
she had used, but attributing the cure to the doctors, 
whom he did greatly honour and warmly thank for having 
so restored his wife to health for his better profit and en- 

I have heard speak of another great lady, one of a 
merry humour and a pretty wit, to whom, being sick, her 
physician did one day declare how that she would never 
be well, unless she changed her habits. Hereupon she 
answered straight, "Well then! let us do it." So the 
physician and she did take one with the other joy of 
heart and body. One day she said to him, "People all 
declare you do it for me; but there, 'tis all one, as I 
am so much better. And all ever I can, I will go on doing 
it, as mine health doth depend on it." 

These two dames last spoke of were quite unlike that 
honourable lady of Pampeluna in Spain, whom I have al- 
ready mentioned in a previous passage, and who is de- 
scribed in the Cent Nouvelles of the Queen of Navarre. 
This lady, being madly in love with M. d'Avannes, did 
think it better to hide her flame, and keep hid in her bosom 
the passion that was consuming her, and die thereof, than 
lose her honour. But by what I have heard sundry hon- 
ourable lords and ladies say in discussing the matter, she 
was a fool for her pains, and little regardful of her soul's 
salvation, seeing she did bring about her own death, it 
being in her power to avoid this extremity, and all for 
a trifle. For in very fact, as an old French proverb doth 
put it, "D'une herbe de pre tondue et d'un c. . . /. . . , 




le dommage est bientot rendu." And what is it, when 
all is done? The business, once done, is like any other; 
what sign is there of it to men's eyes? Doth the lady 
walk any the less upright? doth the world know aught? 
I mean of course when 'tis done in secret, with closed 
doors, and no man by to see. I would much like to know 
this, if many of the great ladies of mine own acquaintance, 
for 'tis with such love doth most take up abode (as this 
same lady of Pampeluna saith, 'tis at high portals that 
high winds do beat), if these do therefore cease to walk 
abroad with proudly lifted head, whether at this Court 
of France or elsewhere, and show them as unabashed as 
ever a Br adamant or Marfisa of them all. And pray, 
who would be so presumptuous as to ask them if they 
condescend to it? Even their husband (I tell you), the 
most of them at any rate, would never dare to charge 
them with it, so well do they understand the art of con- 
cealment and the keeping of a confident show and car- 
riage. But an if these same husbands, any of them, do 
think to speak thereof and threaten them, or punish them 
with harsh words or deeds, why! they be undone; for 
then, even though before they had planned no ill against 
them, yet do they straightway plot revenge and give them 
back as good as they have gotten. For is there not an 
old proverb which saith, "When and so soon as a husband 
doth beat his wife, her body doth laugh for joy"? That 
is to say, it doth presently look for good times, knowing 
the natural bent of its mistress, who unable to avenge 
her wrongs by other weapons, will turn it to account as 
second and best ally, to pay her husband back with her 
lover's help, no matter what watch and ward the poor 
man keep over her. 




For verily, to attain their end, the most sovran means 
they have is to make their complaints to one another, or 
to their women and maids of the chamber, and so win 
these over to get them new lovers, if they have none, or 
an if they have, to convey these privily to places of 
assignation; and 'tis they which do mount guard that 
neither husband nor any other surprise them at it. Thus 
then do these ladies gain over their maids and women, 
bribing them with presents and good promises. In cer- 
tain cases beside they do make agreement and composition 
with these, on the terms that of all the lover may give their 
lady mistress, the servant shall have the half or at least 
the third part thereof. But the worst is, very often the 
mistresses do deceive their servants, taking the whole for 
themselves, making excuse that their lover hath given 
them no more than so small a share as that they have not 
enough to spare aught for others. Thus do they hoax 
these poor wenches and serving maids, albeit they stand 
sentinel and keep good watch. This is a sore injustice; 
and I ween, were the case to be tried with proper argu- 
ments pleaded on this side and that, 'twould afford occa- 
sion for much merriment and shrewd debate. For 'tis 
verily theft, no less, so to filch their benefices and emolu- 
ments duly agreed upon. Other ladies there be however 
who do keep faithfully their promise and compact, and 
hold back naught, for to be the better served and loyally 
helped, herein copying those honest shop-keepers, who 
do render a just proportion of the gain and profit of 
the talent their master or partner hath entrusted them 
withal. And truly such dames do deserve to be right well 
served, seeing they be duly grateful for the trouble, and 
good watch and ward of their inferiors. And these last 




do run many risks and perils, as one I wot of, who keep- 
ing guard one day, the while her mistress was with her 
lover and having merry times, both the twain being right 
well occupied, was caught by the husband's house-steward. 
The man did chide her bitterly for what she was at, say- 
ing 'twere more becoming for her had she been with her 
mistress than to be playing procuress like this and stand- 
ing sentinel outside her door. 'Twas a foul trick she 
was playing her mistress' husband, and he would go warn 
him. However the lady did win him over by means of 
another of her maids, of whom he was enamoured and 
who did promise him some favour at her mistress' prayers ; 
beside, she did make him a present, and he was at last ap- 
peased. Natheless she did never like him afterward, and 
kept a shrewd eye on his doings; finally spying an op- 
portunity and taking it on the hop, she did get him dis- 
missed by her husband. 

I wot of a fair and honourable lady, which did take a 
serving maid of hers into great intimacy and high favour 
and friendship, even allowing her much intimacy, having 
trained her well for such intercourse. So free was she 
with her mistress that sometimes when she did see this 
lady's husband longtime absent from his house, engaged 
either at Court or on some journey, oft would she gaze 
at her mistress as she was dressing her, (and she was one 
of the most beautiful and lovable women of her day), 
and presently remark: "Ah, me! is he not ill-starred, 
Madam, that husband of yours, to possess so fair a wife, 
and yet have to leave her thus all alone so long without 
ever setting eyes on her? Doth he not deserve you should 
cuckold him outright? You really ought; and if I were 
as handsome as you, I should do as much to mine bus- 




band, if he tarried so much away." I leave you to judge 
if the lady and mistress of this serving maid did find 
this a tasty nut to crack, especially finding as she did 
shoes all ready to her feet, whereof she did after make 
good use, freely employing so handy an instrument. 

Again, there be ladies which do make use of their serv- 
ing maids to help them hide their amours and prevent 
their husbands observing aught amiss, and do give them 
charge of their lovers, to keep and hold them as their 
own suitors, under this pretext to be able at any time to 
say, if the husbands do find them in their wives' chambers, 
that they be there as paying court to such or such an 
one of their maids. So under this cloak hath the lady a 
most excellent means of playing her game, and the hus- 
band know naught at all about it. I knew a very great 
Prince indeed which did set him to pay court to a lady 
of the wardrobe to a great Princess, solely to find out the 
secret intrigues of her mistress, and so the better gain 
success in that quarter. 

I have seen plenty of these tricks played in my lifetime, 
though not altogether in the fashion followed by a certain 
honourable lady of the world I once knew, which was so 
fortunate as to be loved of three brave and gallant gen- 
tlemen, one after the other. These on quitting her, did 
presently after love and serve a very great lady, whereon 
she did very pleasantly and good-humouredly deliver her- 
self to this effect. 'Twas she, she said, who had so trained 
and fashioned them by her excellent lessons, as that com- 
ing now into the service of the said great Princess, they 
were exceeding well formed and educated. To rise so high, 
she declared, 'twas very needful first to serve smaller folk, 
in order not to fail with greater ; for to arrive at any su- 



,,.,;;, , , . ;;;..'. ... ; .. ..... . ... . . . l'VJ^V^|^!X?t/JlW' 

preme degree of skill, a man must needs mount first by 
small and low degrees, as is seen in all arts and sciences. 

This did her great honour. Yet more deserving still 
was another I have heard tell of, which was in the train 
of a great lady. This lady was married, and being sur- 
prised by her husband in her chamber receiving a little 
paper note or billet donx from her lover, was right well 
succoured by her subordinate. For this last, cleverly in- 
tercepting the note, did swallow down the same at one 
gulp without making any bones about it and without the 
husband perceiving aught, who would have treated his 
wife very ill indeed, if he had once seen the inside. This 
was a very noble piece of service, and one the great lady 
was always grateful for. 

On the other hand I wot well of ladies which hare found 
them in evil case for having overmuch trusted their serv- 
ing maids, and others again for not having trusted them 
at all. I have heard speak of a fair and honourable lady, 
who had taken and chose out a gentleman, one of the 
bravest, most valiant and well accomplished of all France, 
to give the same pleasure and delight of herself. She 
would never trust any one of her women, and assignation 
being given in a friend's house, it was concerted and 
arranged there should be but one bed in the chamber, her 
women all sleeping in the antechamber. As settled, so 
done. And as there was a cat's-hole in the door, which 
they had not remembered or provided for till the moment, 
they bethought them to stop this with a thin board, to 
the end that if any pushed it down, it would make a rattle, 
which they would hear and could take measures accord- 
ingly. One of her women, suspecting a snake in the grass, 
and angry and hurt because her mistress had not con- 


Y>r/ttr7i?r?itfr^^^ * f*\'frs$Q<s 


fided in her, whom she had ever made her chiefest confi- 
dante, and had given many proofs thereof, doth now make 
up her mind, so soon as her mistress was to bed, to keep 
a look out and listen at the door. She could hear quite 
well a low murmuring, yet was sure 'twas not the reading 
aloud her mistress had for some days indulged in in bed, 
with a candle, the better to dissemble what she was going 
to do. Just as she was on the tip-toe of curiosity, to 
know more, an excellent occasion did present itself most 
opportunely. For a kitten happening to come into the 
room, she and her companions take the animal and push 
it through the cat's-hole into her mistress* chamber, not 
of course without knocking down the board that kept it 
closed and making a clatter. At this the pair of lovers, 
sore startled, did suddenly sit up in bed, and saw by the 
light of their candle 'twas only a cat that had come in and 
knocked down the board. Wherefore without troubling 
more about it, they laid them down again, seeing 'twas 
now late and everybody presumably asleep, but never shut 
to again the cat's-hole, leaving the same open for the cat 
to go out again by, as they did not care to have it shut 
up in their room all night long. Seizing so good an op- 
portunity, the said waiting maid and her companions had 
a fine chance to see enough and to spare of their mistress* 
doings. These they did after reveal to the husband, 
whence came death for the lover, and shame and disgrace 
for the lady. 

This is what doth come of despite and want of confi- 
dence shown folk, which be often just as productive of ill 
consequences as over-confidence. I have heard of a very 
great nobleman which was moved one time to take all his 
wife's waiting-maids (and she was a well-born and very 





fair lady), and have them tortured to make them confess 
all their misdeeds and the services they had rendered her 
in her amours. However his first intent was carried no 
further, to avoid too horrible a scandal. The first sug- 
gestion came from a lady whose name I will not give, 
who had a grudge against the said great lady. For the 
which God did punish her later. 




|O now, following the order of Boccaccio, our 
guide in this discourse, I come next to maids. 
These, it must certainly be allowed, be of 
their nature exceeding timid at first begin- 
ning, and dare in no wise yield up what they hold so 
dear, spite of the constant persuasion and advice their 
fathers, mothers, kinsfolk and mistresses do give them, 
along with most moving threats. So it is that, though 
they should have all the good will thereto in the world, 
yet they do deny themselves all ever they can; beside 
they have ever before their eyes the terror lest their 
bodies do play them false and betray them, else would 
they try many a tasty morsel. Yet all have not this 
scrupulousness; for shutting their eyes to all reflection, 
some do rush boldly into it, not indeed with head down, 
but rather thrown well back. Herein do they make a 
sore mistake, seeing how terrible is the scandal of a maid 
deflowered, and of a thousandfold more import than for 
married woman or widow. For a maid, this treasure of 
hers once lost, is made the object of endless scandal and 
abuse, is pointed at by all men, and doth lose many a 
good opportunity of marriage. For all this, I have 




known not a few cases where some rough fellow or other 
hath been found, either willingly, or of sudden caprice, 
knowingly or unwittingly, on compulsion, to go throw 
himself into the breach, and marry them, as I have de- 
scribed elsewhere, all tarnished as they were, but right 
glad to get them churched after all. 

Many such of either sex have I known in my day, and 
in especial one maid which did most shamefully let her- 
self be got with child by a great Prince, and that without 
an attempt at hiding or dissembling her condition. On 
being discovered, all she said was this: "What was I to 
do? 'tis not my frailty you must blame, nor my lustful- 
ness, but only my over heedlessness and lack of foresight. 
For an if I had been as clever and knowing as the most 
part of my companions, which have done just as ill as I, 
or even worse, but have had wit enough to cure their 
pregnancy or conceal their lying-in, I should not now 
be in this strait, nor had any known a word about it." 
Her companions did for this word wish her mighty ill; 
and she was accordingly expelled the band by her mis- 
tress, albeit 'twas reported this same mistress had or- 
dered her to yield to the wishes of the Prince, wishing to 
get an hold over him and win him to herself. For all 
this, however, the girl failed not some while after to make 
a good match and contract a rich marriage, and pres- 
ently give birth to a noble offspring. Thus we see, an if 
the poor child had been as wily as her comrades and 
other girls, this luck had never been hers. And truly in 
my day I have seen mere girls as clever and expert in 
these matters as ever the oldest married woman, nay! 
going so far as to be most effective and experienced 
procuresses, and not content with their own satisfaction 


rv: .;, ,.".<>: . .\"ftfv*YiiV\iMKfcW\Wi^ 


only, to be after contriving the same delights for others 
to boot. 

*Twas a lady in waiting at the French Court which did 
invent and have performed that fine Comedy entitled the 
Paradis d 'Amour (Paradise of Love) in the Salle de 
Bourbon with closed doors, at which performance were 
none but actors and actresses present, forming players 
and audience both together. Such as do know the story 
will know what I mean. The play had six characters, 
three male and three female. Of these one was a Prince, 
who had his fair one, a great lady, though not too great 
neither, yet did he love her dearly; the second was a 
Lord, who did intrigue with the great Lady, a lady very 
liberal of her favours ; the third was a simple gentleman, 
who did carry on with the maid, whom he did marry later. 
For the gallant authoress was fain to see her own char- 
acter represented on the stage no less than the rest! 
Indeed 'tis ever so with the author of a Comedy ; he doth 
put himself in the play, or else in the prologue. And so 
did this one, and on my faith, girl as she was, did play 
the part as well as the married women, if not better. 
The fact is she had seen more of the world than just her 
own country, and as the Spaniards say rafinada en 
Secobia, had had a Segovia polish or fining. This is a 
proverb in Spain, Segovia being where the best cloths are 

I have heard tales told of many maids, who while serv- 
ing their lady mistresses as Dariolettes, or confidantes, 
have been fain to taste and try the same dainties. Such 
ladies moreover be often slaves in their own women's 
hands, from dread of their discovering them and publish- 
ing abroad their amours, as I have noted above. 'Twas 



a lady in waiting who did one day tell me her opinion, 
that 'twas a mighty piece of folly for maids to sacrifice 
their honour to their passions, and while some silly crea- 
tures were restrained therefrom by their scruples, for 
herself she would not deign to do it, the whole thing 
ending in mere shame and disgrace. On the other hand 
the trick of keeping one's affair privy and secret made 
all right, and girls were mere fools and unfit for this 
wicked world which cannot help themselves and manage 
the thing quietly. 

A Spanish lady, thinking her daughter was afraid of 
the violence of the first wedding night, went to her and 
began to encourage her and persuade her 'twas naught 
at all and she would feel no pain, adding that herself 
would be right glad to be in her place the better to show 
her how to bear it. To this the girl replied, Bezo las 
manos, senora madre, de tal merced, que bien la tomare 
yo por mi, "Much thanks, my lady mother, for your 
kind offer, but I will manage very well by myself." 

I have heard a merry tale of a girl of very high birth, 
who had contrived to afford herself much pleasure in her 
life so far, and whom her family now spake of marrying 
in Spain. One of her most special and privy friends said 
one day to her, by way of jest, how surprised he was to 
find that she, which had so dearly loved the rising quar- 
ter, was now about to travel toward the setting or west- 
ern, because Spain lies to the westward. To this the 
lady made answer, "Truly, I have heard mariners say, 
men that have travelled far, how that the navigation of 
the rising quarter is right pleasant and agreeable; and 
indeed myself have steered many a time thither by the 
compass I do alway carry on me. So I will take advan- 




tage of this same instrument, when I am in the land of the 
setting sun, yet to hie away me straight to the rising." 
Judicious commentators will find it easy enough to in- 
terpret the allegory and make a shrewd guess at what 
I point to. I leave you to judge by these words whether 
the damsel had invariably limited her reading to the 
"hours" of Our Lady, and none other. 

Another damsel I have heard of, and could give her 
name, who hearing of the wonders of the city of Venice, 
its singular beauties and the liberties there enjoyed of all, 
and especially of harlots and courtesans, did exclaim to 
one of her bosom friends, "I would to God we had des- 
patched thither all our wealth by letter of credit, and 
were there arrived ourselves for to lead the gay and 
happy existence of its courtesans, a life none other can 
come near, even though we were Empresses of all the 
whole world !" Truly a good wish and an excellent ! And 
in very deed I opine they that be fain of such a life could 
hardly dwell in a better spot. 

No less do I admire another wish, expressed by a lady 
of former days. She was questioning a poor slave es- 
caped from the Turks as to the tortures and sufferings 
these did inflict on him and other unhappy Christian 
captives, who did tell her enough and to spare of cruel- 
ties so inflicted of every sort and kind. Presently she 
did ask him what they did to women. "Alas and alas ! 
Madam," said he, "they do it to them, and go on doing 
it, till they die." "Well! I would to God," she cried, 
"I might die so, a martyr to the faith." 

Three great Ladies, of whom one was a maid, being 
together one day, as I am told, did begin telling their 
wishes. One said, "I would fain have an apple-tree that 



should bear every year as many golden apples as it doth 
common fruit." The second, "I would have a meadow 
that should yield me jewels and precious stones as many 
as it doth flowers." The third, which was a maid, "And 
I would choose a dovecote, whereof the openings should 
be worth as much to me as such and such a lady's coop, 
such and such a great King's favourite, whose name I will 
not speak; only I should like mine to be visited of more 
pigeons than is hers." 

These dames were of a different complexion from a 
certain Spanish lady, whose life is writ in the History of 
Spain, and who, one day when Alfonzo the Great, King 
of Aragon, made a state entry into Saragossa, threw 
herself on her knees before his Majesty to ask justice 
of him. The King signifying his willingness to hear her, 
she did ask to speak to him in private, and he did grant 
her this favour. Hereupon she laid a complaint against 
her husband, for that he would lie with her two and 
thirty times a month, by day no less than a-nights, in 
such wise that he gave her never a minute of rest or 
respite. So the King did send for the husband and 
learned of him 'twas true, the man deeming he could not 
be in the wrong seeing it was his own wife; then the 
King's council being summoned to deliberate on the mat- 
ter, his Majesty did issue decree and ordered that he 
should touch her but six times, not without expressing 
his much marvel at the exceeding heat and puissance 
of the fellow, and the extraordinary coldness and con- 
tinence of the wife, so opposite to the natural bent of 
other women (so saith the story), which be ever ready to 
clasp hands and beseech their husbands or other men 
to give them enough of it, and do make sore complaint 



:jtxm t ^:-^WJ^Ma!^!^i3^^^ 

an if these do give to others what is their share by rights. 

Very different from this last was another lady, a young 
girl of a good house, who the day after her wedding, 
recounting over to her companions her adventures in the 
night just done, "What!" cried she, "and is that all? 
For all I had heard some of you say, and other women, 
and men to boot, which do boast them so bold and gallant, 
and promise such mountains of wondrous deeds, why! 
o' my faith, friends and comrades mine, the man (mean- 
ing her husband), that made himself out so hot a lover 
and valiant a wight, and so fine a runner at the ring, did 
run but four all counted, as it were the regular three 
for the ring and one for the ladies." We can but sup- 
pose, as she made such complaint of scanty measure, she 
would fain have had a round dozen to her share; but 
everyone is not like the Spanish gentleman of our last 

This is how they do make mock of their husbands. So 
one, who when just wed on her first marriage night, did 
play the prude and was for obstinately resisting her hus- 
band. But he did bethink him to declare that, and if he 
had to take his big dagger, 'twould be another game alto- 
gether, and she would have something to cry out for; 
whereat the child, fearing the big weapon he did threaten 
her withal, did yield her instantly to his wishes. But next 
time, she was no longer afeared, and not content with 
the little one, did ask at first go off for the big one 
he had threatened her with the night before. To which 
the husband replied he had never a big one, and had 
said BO but in jest; so she must e'en be satisfied with 
what little provision he had about him. Then she cried, 
"Nay ! 'tis very ill done, so to make mock of poor, simple 




maids !" I wot not whether we should call this damsel 
simple and ignorant, and not rather knowing and artful, 
as having tried the thing before. I do refer the question 
to the learned for decision. 

Bien plus estait simple une antre fille, laquelle s'estant 
plaincte a la justice que un gallant Pay ant prise par 
force, et lui enquis sur ce fait, il respondit: "Messieurs, 
je m'en rapporte a elle s'il est orai, et si elle i'a pris mon 
cas et Pa mis de sa main propre dans lie sien. Ha ! Mes- 
sieurs, (dit la fille) il est bien orai cela, mais qu'il ne 1'enst 
fait? Car, ampres qu'il m'ent couchee et trousee, il me 
mit sou cas roide et poinctu comme un baston contre la 
ventre, et m'en domisit de si grands coups que j'ens peur 
qu'il me le percast et m'y fist im trou. Dame! je lui 
pris ahers et le mis dans le tron qui estoit tout fait." Si 
cette fille estoit simplette, on le contrefaisoit, j ra'en 

I will now tell a couple of stories of two married 
women, of as great a simplicity as the last, or, if you 
prefer it so, of as great artfulness. The first was a very 
great lady of mine acquaintance, a very fine woman and 
much sought after for this reason. One day a very great 
Prince did make offers to her, pressing her right eagerly 
and promising her very fine and most advantageous con- 
ditions, rank and riches without end for herself and her 
husband, so much so that she did hearken at first and 
give a willing ear to such seductive temptations. How- 
ever she would not right off consent, but in her sim- 
plicity as a new made wife, knowing naught of the wicked 
world, she did come and reveal the whole matter to her 
husband, asking his advice whether she should do it or 




no. The husband firing up instantly, cried, "Never, 
never, by God! little wife; what are you talking about, 
what would you be at? 'Tis a foul deed, an irreparable 
stain on both of us!" "But, Sir," returned the lady, 
"we shall both be such grand folk, no one will have a 
word to say against us." In a word the husband did 
refuse absolutely; but the lady, beginning presently to 
pluck up a spirit and understand the world, was loath to 
lose the chance, and did take her fling with the said 
Prince and others beside, quite forgetting her erstwhile 
simpleness. I have heard the story told by one which 
had it of the Prince in question. The lady too had con- 
fided it to him; and he had chid her, counselling her 
that in such affairs one should never consult the husband, 
who was of necessity a prejudiced party. 

Not less simple-minded, or very little, was another 
young married dame I have heard of, to whom one day an 
honourable gentleman did proffer his love, at the hus- 
band's very elbow, who for the moment was holding dis- 
course with another lady. The suitor did suddenly put 
son instrument entre les mains Elle le prit et, le serrant 
fort etroitement et se tournant vers son mari, lui dit: 
"Mon mariy voyez le beau present que me -fait ce gentU- 
homme; le recevraije? dites-le-moi." Le pauvre gentil- 
homme, etonne, retire a soi son epervier de si, grande 
rudesse que, recontrant une pointe de diamant qu'elle 
avait au doigt, le lui esserta de telle facon d'un bout a 
Vautre qu'eUe le crut perdre du tout, and suffered very 
great pain and even came in danger of his life. He 
rushed frantically from the room, watering all the place 
with his gore which flowed in torrents. The husband 



made no ado about running after him to utter any re- 
criminations on the matter; all he did was to burst out 
a-laughing heartily, at once at the simplicity of his poor 
little wife, and because the fellow was so soundly pun- 

Well! here is a village story I must needs tell, for 
'tis not a bad one. A village wench, as they were leading 
her to church on her wedding-day to the sound of tabor 
and flute, and with much rustic ceremony, chancing to 
catch sight of her girlhood's lover, did shout out these 
words to him, "Farewell, Pierre, farewell! I've got . . . 
You'll never give it me any more. My mother's married 
me now," blurting the word right out. Her simplicity 
was no less admirable than the soft regret she showed 
for past days. 

One more, as we are on village tales. A pretty young 
girl took a load of wood to sell at the market town. 
Asked how much, she kept continually raising her price 
at each offer made her by the dealers. "You shall have 
so much," they cried, "and something else into the bar- 
gain." " 'Tis well said," she cried, "and thank you ! 
you're the very man." 

Right simple-minded wenches these, and very different, 
they and their like, (for there be plenty such), from a 
whole host of others in this wicked world, which be far 
more double-dealing and knowing than these, never asking 
counsel of their husbands nor never showing them such 
presents as they may get. 

I heard an anecdote once in Spain of a young girl who 
the first night after her marriage, as her husband was 
struggling and sweating sore and hurting himself in his 
attempts, did set up a laugh and tell him, Senor, bien e* 




razon que seays martyr, pues que io soy virgen; mas pues 
que to tomo la paciencia, bien la podeys tomar, "Sir, 
'tis but right you should be a martyr, since I am a virgin ; 
but as I am so patient, you must be patient too." Thus 
in revenge of his making fun of his wife, did she make 
fine fun of him. And in good sooth many a girl hath 
good cause to make mock at such a time, especially when 
they have learned afore what it all is, or have been in- 
formed of others, or have themselves dreamed and pic- 
tured out this mighty moment of delight, which they do 
suppose so great and lasting. 

Another Spanish bride, telling over next morning her 
husband's merits, found several to praise, "only" she 
added, "que no era buen contador aritmetico, porque no 
sabia mtdtiplicar, that he was not a good arithme- 
tician at all, for he couldn't multiply." 

Another young maid of good birth and family (one 
myself have known and talked with), on her wedding 
night, when all the company were listening outside the 
door according to custom, and the husband had just 
given her the first embrace, and as he did rest a while, 
though not yet asleep, asked her if she would like some 
more of the same, "An if it please you, Sir!" she said. 
Imagine the gallant bridegroom's astonishment at such an 
answer, and how he must have rubbed his ears. 

Maids which do say such tricky things so readily and 
so soon after marriage, may well rouse strange suspicions 
in their poor husbands' breasts, and lead them to suppose 
they be not the first that have dropped anchor in their 
bay, nor will be the last so to do. For we cannot doubt, 
an if a man do not strive hard and nigh kill himself to 
work well his wife, she will soon bethink her of giving 




him a pair of pretty horns, or as an old French proverb 
put it, 

Et qui ne la contente pas, 
Va ailleurs chercher son repas. 

Yet when a woman doth get all ever she can out of a 
man, she doth knock him clean over, just doing him to 
death. 'Tis an old saying : A woman should not take of a 
lover all she would have, but must spare him what she 
can; not so with an husband, him she should drain to 
the very bones. And this is why, as the Spanish saw 
hath it, que el primero pensamiento de la muger, luego 
que es casada, es de embiudarse. "A married woman's 
first thought is to contrive to make herself a widow." 
This saying is not universally true, as I do hope to show 
in another place ; it doth only apply to some women, and 
not all. 

Some girls there be which, when no longer able to 
restrain themselves, be ready to give themselves only to 
Princes and great Lords, folk very meet to stir their 
passion, both by reason of their gracious condescension 
and the fine presents they make, as well as for love of 
their good looks and pretty ways, for indeed all is fine 
and point-device, though they may be silly coxcombs and 
no more, as myself have seen some. Other girls again do 
not seek after such at all, but do rather avoid them all 
they can, because they have something of a repute for 
being scandal-mongers, great boasters, indiscreet and 
garrulous. They do prefer instead simple gentlemen of 
prudent and discreet complexion, but alas! the number 
of such is very small. Happy she who doth meet with 
such an one! To avoid all these inconveniences, girls do 




choose, (at least some do) their men-servants, some being 
handsome men, some not, and I have myself known 
ladies which have acted so. Nor doth it take much ur- 
gency to persuade the fellows; for putting them to bed 
and getting them up as they do, undressing them, putting 
their foot-gear on and off, and even changing their shifts, 
and I have seen many young girls at Court and else- 
where which did make no sort of difficulty or scruple 
about all this, seeing so many pretty sights as they 
must, they cannot but feel temptation. And I ween some 
of their mistresses do of set purpose let them see their 
charms freely. The end can only be that, when the eyes 
have done their office, other senses be presently called 
in to execute theirs. 

I knew once a fair damsel of the great world, a beauty 
if ever there was one, which did make her man-servant 
share her with a great Prince, who kept her as his mis- 
tress and supposed he was the only happy possessor of 
her favours. But herein the valet marched step by step 
with him; and indeed she had made no ill choice, so 
handsome a man was he and of so fine a figure; indeed, 
no difference was to be noted. In fact the valet did have 
the advantage of the Prince in many beauties of person; 
and the latter knew never a word about the intimacy 
till he finally quitted the lady on his marriage. Nor did 
he for this treat the man any the worse, but was always 
glad to see him ; and whenever he caught sight of him in 
passing, he would merely cry, "Is it possible now this 
fellow was my rival? Well, well! I can quite believe it, 
for barring my rank, he hath the better of me otherwise." 
He bore the same name as the Prince, and was a most 
excellent tailor, one of the most famous at Court. There 




was hardly a woman there, single or married, but he did 
dress them, when they were for exquisite costumes. I 
cannot tell whether he was used to dress them in the same 
fashion he dressed his mistress, but they were invariably 
well put on. 

I knew once a young girl of a good house, which had a 
boy lackey of only fourteen, whom she had made her 
fool and plaything. Amid their plays and foolings, she 
did make no kind of difficulty whatever to let him kiss 
her, as privily as it had been only a woman, and this 
very often before company, excusing it all by saying he 
was her pretty fool and little playmate. I wot not 
whether he went further, but I do know that afterward, 
as wife and widow, and wife once more, she was ever a 
most notable whore. Remember how she did kindle her 
match at this first fire, so that she did never after lack 
flame in any of her later and greater passions and es- 
capades. I had tarried a good year before I saw this 
lady; but when I did behold her at home and with her 
mother, who had the repute of being one of the most 
accomplished of sham prudes of her day, laughing and 
making light of the whole thing, I did foresee in a mo- 
ment how this little game would lead to a more serious 
one, and one played in downright earnest, and that the 
damsel would one day grow a very glutton at it, as was 
afterward the case. 

I knew two sisters of a very good old family in Poitou, 
and both unmarried, of whom strange tales were told, 
and particularly with regard to a tall Basque footman 
of their father's. This fellow, under pretext of his fine 
dancing, (for he could dance not only his native brawls, 
but all the other dances as well), would commonly take 




them out to dance and teach them the steps and be part- 
ner to them. Later he did teach them the harlot's reel, 
and they gat themselves finely talked about. Still they 
found no difficulty in getting husbands, for they were 
very wealthy folk; and this word wealth covereth up all 
defects, so as men will pick up anything, no matter how 
hot and scalding. I knew the said Basque afterward as a 
good soldier and brave man, and one that showed he had 
had some training. He was dismissed his place, to avoid 
scandal, and became a soldier in the Guard in M. d'Es- 
trozze's regiment. 

I knew likewise another great house, and a noble, the 
lady mistress whereof did devote herself to bringing up 
young maids of birth in her household, amongst others 
sundry kinswomen of her husband's. Now the lady being 
very sickly and a slave to doctors and apothecaries, there 
was always plenty of these to be found thereabouts. 
Moreover young girls be subject to frequent sicknesses, 
such as pallors, anaemia, fevers and the like, and it so 
happened two of them fell ill of a quartan ague, and 
were put under the charge of an apothecary to cure them. 
And he did dose them well with his usual drugs and medi- 
cines; but the best of all his remedies was this, that he 
did sleep with one of them, the presumptuous villain, for 
he had to do with as fair and honourable a maid as any 
in France, and one a great King had been well content 
to enjoy; yet must Master Apothecary have his will of 

Myself knew the damsel, who did certainly deserve a 
better lover. She was married later, and given out for 
virgin, and virgin she was found to be. Herein did she 
show her cunning to some purpose; for car, puisqu'ette 


yrtr^iyrtiY>wii\itow\^^ 4 4 M&wsifiMKffi 



ne pouvait tenir son eau, elle s'adressa a celui qui donnait 
les antidotes pour engarder d'engrosser, car c'est ce que 
les files craignent le plus: dont en cela il y en a de si 
experts qui leur donnent des drogues qui les engardent 
tres bien d'engrosser; ou bien, si elles engrossent, leur font 
ecouler leur grossesse so subtuement et si sagement que 
jamais on ne s'en apercoit, et n'en sent-on rien que le vent. 
Ainsi que j'en ai ou'i parler d'une file, laqueUe avait 
ete autrefois nourrie ftte de la feue reine de Navarre 
Marguerite. Elle vint par cas fortunt, ou a engrosser 
sans qu'elle y pensat pourtant. Elle rencontra un ruse 
apothicaire, qui, lui ayant donne un breuvage, lui fit 
evader son fruit, qui avait deja six mois, piece par piece, 
morceau par morceau, si aisement, qu'Stant en ses affaires 
jamais elle n'en sentit ni mal ni douleur; et puis apres 
se maria galamment, sans que le mari y connut aucune 
trace; car on leur donne des remedes pour se faire par- 
aitre vierges et pucelles comme auparavant, ainsi que 
j'en ai attegue un au DISCOUPS DES Cocus. Et un que 
j'en out dire a un empirique ces jours passes, qu'il faut 
avoir des sangsues et les mettre a la nature, et faire par 
la tirer et sucer le sang: lesquelles sangsues, en sue ant, 
laisent et engendrent de petites ampoules et fistules 
pleines de sang; si bien que le galant mari, qui vient le 
soir des noces les assaillir, leur creve ces ampoules d'oti 
le sang sort, et lui et elle s'ensanglantent, qui est une 
grande joie a I'un et a I'autre; et par ainsi, 1'honor della 
citella e salva. Je trouve ce remede plus souverain que 
I'autre, s'il est vrai; et s'ils ne sont bons tous deux, il 
y en a cent autres qui sont meilleurs, ainsi que le savent 
tres bien ordonner, inventer et appliquer ces messieurs les 
medecins savants et experts apothicaires. Viola pour- 




quoi ces messieurs out ordinairement de tres belles et 
bonnes fortunes, car Us savent blesser et remedier, ainsi 
qui fit la lance de Pelias. 

Myself knew the Apothecary I spake of but now, as to 
whom I will add only one word more in passing, how 
I saw him at Geneva the first time I did visit Italy, for 
at that time the common road for French travellers 
thither was by Switzerland and the Grisons, because of 
the wars then raging. He came to see me at my lodging. 
Of a sudden I did ask him what he was doing in that 
town, and whether he was there to medicine pretty girls, 
the same as he had done in France. He answered me 
he was there to repent of such misdoings. "What !" said 
I, "you have not such dainty bits to taste here as you 
had there?" "Ah! Sir," he replied, "'tis because God 
hath called me, and I am enlightened of his spirit, and 
I have now knowledge of his Holy Word." "Yes! yes!" 
I went on, "in those days too you were a pious Protestant, 
and did combine medicine for the body and for the soul, 
preaching to the girls and giving them some fine instruc- 
tion." "But, my dear Sir, I do know my God better 
these days," he returned again, "than then, and would 
fain sin no more." I need not repeat much other dis- 
course we had on this subject, both seriously and in jest; 
but the impudent scamp did certainly enjoy that pretty 
bit of flesh, more meet for some gallant gentleman than 
for such as he. It was as well for him he did quit that 
house pretty smartly; else had he fared ill. However, 
enough of this. Cursed be the fellow, for the hate and 
envy I do bear him, as did M. de Ronsard to a physician 
which was used to come night and morning rather to see 
the poet's mistress, and feel her breasts and bosom and 




rounded arm, than to medicine her for the fever she had. 
He writ a very charming sonnet on the subject; 'tis in 
the second book of his Amours, and begins thus : 

He* que je porte et de hayne et d'envie 

An medecin qui vient et matin, 

Sans nul propos, tastonner le tetin, 

Le sein, le ventre et les flancs de ma mye. 

I do bear a like fierce jealousy against a physician 
which did similarly toward a fair and noble lady I was 
enamoured of, and from whom I never gat any such 
privileges and familiarities, though I had loved them 
better than the winning of a little kingdom. These gentry 
are for sure exceeding agreeable to dames and damsels, 
and do have fine adventures with them, an if they seek 
after such. I have known two physicians at Court, one 
M. Castellan, physician to the Queen Mother, the other 
the Seigneur Cabrian, physician to M. de Nevers, and 
who had held the same office with Ferdinand de Gon- 
zague. Both have enjoyed successes with women, by all 
one hears, that the greatest noblemen at Court would 
have sold their souls to the devil for to have gone shares 
with them. 

We were discoursing one day, the late Baron de Vitaux 
and myself, with M. Le Grand, a famous physician of 
Paris, a man of agreeable manners and excellent counsel, 
he having come to visit the said Baron, who was ill of some 
amorous indiscretion. Both of us questioning him on 
sundry little ways and peculiarities of the ladies, he did 
entertain us finely, and told us a round dozen of tales 
that did verily take the prize. So engrossed did he grow 





herewith, that, nine o'clock striking, he cried, getting up 
from the chair where he was seated : "Truly, I am a greater 
simpleton than you two, which have kept me here two 
good hours chattering with you rascals, and all the while 
I have been forgetting six or seven sick folk I am bound 
to go visit." So with a word of farewell, he doth hie him 
away, though not without a further last word in reply 
to us, when we called after him: "Rascal yourself, Doc- 
tor! Oh! you doctors know some fine things and do 'em 
too, and you especially, for you talk like a past master 
of the art." He answered us, looking down, "True 
enough, true enough! we both know and do some fine 
doings, for we do possess sundry secrets not open to all 
the world. But I'm an old man now, and have bid a long 
farewell to Venus and her boy. Nowadays I leave all this 
to you younger rascals." 


| E read in the life of St. Louis, in the History of 
Paulus Aemilius, of a certain Marguerite, 
Countess of Flanders, sister of Jeanne, daugh- 
ter of Baldwin I., Emperor of the Greeks, and 
his successor, seeing she had no children, so says History. 
She was given in her early girlhood a teacher named Guil- 
laume, a man esteemed of an holy life and who had already 
taken minor orders. Yet did this in no wise hinder him to 
get two children of his fair pupil, which were christened 
Baldwin and John, and all so privily as that few folk knew 
aught of the matter. The two boys were later declared 
legitimate by the Pope. What fine teaching, and what a 
teacher ! So much for History. 




I knew a great Lady at Court which had the repute 
of being over familiar with her reader and teacher, 
so much so indeed that one day Chicot, the King's jester, 
did openly reproach her therewith in presence of his 
Majesty and many other personages of the Court, asking 
her if she were not ashamed to have herself loved (saying 
the word right out) of so ugly and base a loon as yonder 
fellow, and if she had not wit to choose a better man. 
The company hereon began to laugh uproariously and 
the lady to weep, supposing that the King had abetted 
the game; for strokes of the sort were quite in character 
with his usual play. Other very great ladies and high 
Princesses I have known, which every day would amuse 
themselves with making their Secretaries, whom I have 
likewise known, write, or rather pretend to write, and 
have fine games. Or if they did not call for them to 
write, having naught to say, then would they make them 
read aloud, for to give a better colour to the whole 
thing, declaring how reading themselves did weaken their 

Great ladies which do make choice of suchlike para- 
mours be quite inexcusable and most blameworthy, seeing 
they have their liberty of action, and full freedom and 
opportunity to choose whom they will. But poor girls 
which be abject slaves of father and mother, kinsfolk 
and guardians and mistresses, and timid to boot, are 
constrained to pick up any stone they can find for their 
purpose, never thinking whether it be cold or hot, roast 
or boiled. And so, according as occasion offer, they do 
generally resort to their men-servants, to their school- 
master and teacher, to fellows of the artist craft, lute- 
players, fiddlers, dancing masters, painters, in a word 




their different instructors in knowledge and accomplish- 
ments, and even sometimes preachers of religion and holy 
monks, as Boccaccio doth describe and the Queen of 
Navarre in her Nouvettes. The like is done by pages, as 
myself have noted, lackeys, and especially stage-players, 
with whom I have known two maids of honour desperately 
in love and not scrupling to indulge the same. Poets too 
I have known in some cases to have debauched fair maids, 
wives and widows. 

These do fondly love to be praised and worshipped, 
and with this bait are caught, as indeed by almost any 
they do find convenient and can attract to them. Law- 
yers again be very dangerous folk in these matters. 

Now note why 'tis Boccaccio and other writers with 
him do find maids to be more constant in love and more 
steadfast than wives or widows. 'Tis because they do 
resemble persons afloat on a river in a sinking boat. They 
that cannot swim at all do spring at the first branches 
they can catch hold of, and do grasp these firmly and 
obstinately till they see help arrive. Others that can 
swim, do leap into the water and strike out boldly till 
they have reached the bank. Even so young maids, 
whenas they have gotten a lover, do hold and keep him 
steadfastly, the one they have first chose, and will in no 
wise let him go, but love him steadfastly. This cometh 
of the dread that, having no free choice and proper op- 
portunity, they may not be able, an if they lose him, 
to get another such as they would wish. Whereas mar- 
ried women and widows, which do know the wiles of love 
and are well experienced, and have full liberty and all 
convenience to swim in all waters without danger, may 
choose what mate they please; and if they weary of one 


4 . . . , . , . . 4 . , . 4 ' 4 4 4*4 


lover or lose him, why ! they can straight get another, or 
even take two. For with them 'tis ever a case of "one 
lost, two got back." 

Beside, young girls have not the means, the money and 
crown-pieces, to win them new lovers every day; for all 
ever they can give their lovers is some small gift of a 
lock of hair, a little seed pearl or so, a bracelet, a small 
ring or a scarf, or other insignificant presents that cost 
almost naught. For high-born as a girl may be (I have 
seen it myself), and no matter of how great an house 
and how rich an heiress, she is kept so short of money, 
by father, mother, kinsfolk or guardians, as the case may 
be, that she simply hath not the means to give much to 
her lover, nor scarce ever to untie her purse widely, 
unless it be her purse in front. Besides, girls be of them- 
selves miserly, if for no other reason, yet because they 
be forced to it, having scarce any means of extravagance ; 
for generosity in giving doth rest and depend above all on 
the ability to gratify it. On the contrary wives and 
widows can dispose of their wealth very freely, when they 
have any; and above all, when they have fancied a man, 
and be taken with passion and caprice for him, there is 
naught they will not sell and give away to the very shift 
on their back, rather than not have enjoyment of him. 
Herein they are just like gluttons and folk that be slaves 
of their mouths, who taking a fancy to a tid-bit, must 
have the same, no matter what it cost them at the market. 
Poor maids be in quite other case; whatsoever they can 
get, be it good or bad, this must they stop and buy. 

I could bring forward a whole host of their intrigues, 
and their divers appetites and curious preferences. But 
I should never get me done at that rate; beside what 




would such tales be worth, unless the subjects were given 
by name and surname. But this is a thing I will not do 
at any price, for I desire to bring shame on no woman ; and 
I have made profession to avoid in this my book all evil- 
speaking whatsoever, so that none may have aught to 
reproach me with on the score of scandal-mongering. 
However to tell my tales, suppressing the names, in this 
can be no harm. I do leave my readers to guess the per- 
sons intended; and many a time they will suppose it to 
be one, though all the while 'tis quite another. 


|OW just as we do see different sorts of wood 
of such different nature, that some will burn 
when quite green, as the ash and the beech, 
but others, be they as dry, old and well sea- 
soned as you please, for instance the elm, the alder and 
others, do burn only as slowly and tediously as possible, 
while many others, following the general nature of all 
dry and old wood, do blaze up in their dryness and oldness 
so rapidly and suddenly 'tis rather a destroying and 
instant reducing to ashes than burning proper, so is 
the like true of women, whether maids, wives or widows. 
Some, so soon as ever they be come to the first greenness 
of their age, do burn so easily and well, you would say 
from their very mother's womb they do draw thence an 
amorousness; as did the fair Lai's from her fair mother 
Tymandra, that most famous harlot, and an hundred 
thousand others which herein do take after the good 
whores their mothers. Nay! sometimes they do not so 
much as wait for the age of maturity, that may be put 




at twelve or thirteen, to begin loving, but are at it 
sooner yet. This happened not twelve years agone at 
Paris to a pastry-cook's child, which was discovered to 
be pregnant at nine years of age. 1 The girl being very 
sick with her pregnancy, and her father having taken a 
specimen of her urine to a physician, the latter said at 
once she had no other sickness but only that she was 
with child. "What!" cried the father; "Why, Sir! my 
daughter is only nine years old." Who so astonished as 
the doctor? " 'Tis all one," said he; "of a surety, she 
is with child." And after examining her more closely, 
he did indeed find her so. The child afterward confessing 
with whom she had had to do, her gallant was condemned 
to death by the judges, for having gone with her at so 
very tender an age. I much regret I have come to give 
this example and mention the thing here, seeing I had 
made up my mind not to sully my paper with suchlike 
mean folk, but to deal only with great and well-born 

Herein I have somewhat gone wide of my purpose, but 
the story being so rare and uncommon, I must e'en be 

This doth remind me of a tale of a brave and gallant 
Lord if ever there was one, since dead, which was one day 
making complaint of the amplitude of women's affairs 
with whom he had had to do, as well maids as married 
ladies. He declared 'twould come to his having to look 
for mere children, just come from the cradle so to speak, 
so as not to find so wide a space of open sea as he had done 
with the rest, but get better pleasure by swimming in a 
narrow strait. An if he had addressed these words to a 
certain great and honourable dame I do know, she would 




have made him the same answer she did to another gentle- 
man of the great world, to whom, on his making a like 
complaint, she did retort thus: "I wot not which hath 
better cause of complaint, you men of our width and over 
amplitude, or we women of your tenuity and over small- 
ness, or rather your tiny, tiny littleness; truly we have 
as much to lament in you as ever you in us." 

The lady was right enough in what she said. Similarly 
another great lady, one day at Court looking curiously 
at the great bronze Hercules in the fountain at Fontaine- 
bleau, as she was a-walking with an honourable gentleman 
which did escort her, his hand beneath her arm, did com- 
plain that the said Hercules, albeit excellently well 
wrought and figured otherwise, was not so well propor- 
tioned in all his members as should be, forasmuch as his 
middle parts were far too small and out of proper meas- 
ure, in no wise corresponding to his huge colossus of a 
body. The gentleman replied he did not agree with what 
she said, for 'twas to be supposed that in those days 
ladies were not so wide as at the present. 

A very great lady and noble Princess 2 learning how 
that certain folk had given her name to a huge great cul- 
verin, did ask the reason why. Whereupon one present 
answered : " 'Tis for this, Madam, because it hath a calibre 
greater and wider than all the rest." 

Si est-ce pourtant qu'elles y out trouve assez de remede, 
et en trouvent tons les jours assez pour rendre leurs portes 
plug etroites, carrees et plus malaisees d'entree; dont au- 
cunes en usent, et d'autres non; mats nonobstant t quand 
le chemin y est bien battu et frayS souvent par continu- 
elle habitation et frequentation, ou passages d y enfants t 
les owoertures de plusieurs en sont tou jours plus grandes 



et plus larges. Je me suis la un peu perdu et devoye; 
mats puisque c'a etc a propos il n'y a point de mal, et je 
retourne a mon chemin. 

Many other young girls there be which let safely pass 
this early, tender, sappy time of life, waiting a greater 
maturity and dryness, whether because they be naturally 
cold at first beginning and start, or that they be kept 
close guarded, as is very needful with some. Others there 
be so steadfast, the winds and tempests of winter would 
avail naught to shake or stir them. Others again be so 
foolish and simple-minded, so raw and ignorant, as that 
they would not so much as hear the name of love. So 
have I heard of a woman which did affect the virtuous 
prude, that an if she did hear the word harlot mentioned, 
she would instantly faint. A friend telling this story to 
a certain great Lord in presence of his wife, the latter did 
exclaim: "She'd better not come here, that woman; for 
if she doth faint to hear speak of whores, she'll die right 
out to see one." 

On the other hand there be some girls which from the 
first moment they begin to feel they have a heart, grow 
so tame they will eat from the hand at once. Others be 
so devout and scrupulous, fearing so sore the command- 
ments of the Lord our God, that they do quite neglect that 
of love. Yet have I seen many of these same devout pat- 
terers of prayers, these women that be forever a-kissing 
of images and all but living in churches, which did under 
this hypocritical veil cover and conceal the fire of their 
passions, to the end that by such false and feigned sem- 
blance the world might perceive never a trace of them, 
but deem them perfect prudes, or even half way to being 
saints like St. Catherine of Sienna, by the which profes- 





sions they have often succeeded in deceiving all mankind. 
Thus have I heard it related of a very great Princess, a 
Queen indeed, now dead, who when she was fain to make 
love to any man, (for she was exceeding given that way), 
would invariably begin her conversation with the love we 
do owe to God, and then suddenly bring it round to carnal 
love, and what she did want of her interlocutor, whereof 
she did before long come to the practice or quintessential 
part. This is how these devotees, or bigots rather, do 
cajole us men; such of us that is as be not well versed in 
wiles of the sort and know not life. 

I have heard a tale, though I wot not if it be true. Any- 
way of late years, on occasion of a general procession at 
a certain city, was seen a woman, well born or not, bare- 
footed and in great contrition, playing the penitent with 
might and main, and it was in Lent. Straight from 
there she hied her away to dine with her lover on a quarter 
of kid and a ham. The savour did penetrate to the street, 
and going up to her chamber, folk found her in the midst 
of this glorious feast. She was arrested and condemned 
to be led through the town with the joint on a spit over 
her shoulder and the ham hanging at her neck. Was not 
this a meet and proper punishment? 

Other ladies there be so proud and haughty they do 
scorn heaven and earth in a way of speaking, and utterly 
snub and reject men and all their offers. But for such all 
that is need is to wait and have patience and persever- 
ance, for with these and time you do surely subdue them 
and find them humble enough at last, for 'tis the property 
of highmindedness and pride, after much swelling and 
exaltation, presently to come down and bate its lofty 
claims. And with these same proud dames, I have seen 



many instances where after scorning love and all that 
spake to them thereof, they have given in and loved like 
any others, or have even wedded husbands of mean estate 
and in no way their equals. Thus doth Love make mock 
of them and punish them for their hard-heartedness, tak- 
ing especial delight in attacking them more than other 
folk, forasmuch as the victory is then a prouder one, as 
vanquishing pride. 

I knew erstwhile a Court damsel, so proud and scorn- 
ful that when some gallant man of the world would come 
to address her and speak of love, she would ever answer 
him so haughtily and with so great contempt, in words so 
fierce and arrogant (for she had a gift of speech as good 
as any), that presently they did cease altogether. But 
an if any did chance now and again still to try and van- 
quish her pride, 'twas a sight how she would snub them 
and send them packing with words and looks and scorn- 
ful gestures; for she was very clever at this game. In 
the end Love did surprise and sore punish her, for she 
gave in to one which did get her with child some score 
of days only before her marriage ; yet was this lover in no 
wise to be compared with many other honourable gentle- 
men which had aforetime been fain to be her suitors. 
Herein we can only say with Horace, sic placet Veneri, 
"such is Venus' pleasure," for these be miracles. 

'Twas my humour once while at Court to be lover to a 
fair and honorable damsel, accomplished and expert if 
ever woman was, and of a very good house, but proud 
and highhanded; and I was very much smit with her in- 
deed. I did make up my mind to court her, but alway 
to deal with her in the same arrogant spirit she did use 
in her words and answers to me, as the proverb saith, 





"When Greek meets Greek." Yet did she show no resent- 
ment for all this, for indeed, all the while I was treating 
her so cavalierly, I was used to praise her exceedingly, 
seeing there is naught doth more soften a woman's heart 
than commendation whether of her beauty and charms or 
of her proud spirit, even declaring how that her port did 
much become her, forasmuch as she kept her from all 
common familiarity, and that any woman, damsel or dame, 
which did make her too common and familiar, not main- 
taining a haughty port and high repute, was not worthy 
to be so courted. For all which I did but respect her the 
more, and would never call her by any other name but 
my lady Disdain. Whereat she was so well pleased she 
did herself likewise choose to call me always Master Arro- 

So ever continuing, I did court her long and faith- 
fully; and I may boast me I had as large a share of her 
good graces as any great Lord at Court which did care 
to court her, or larger. However a chief favourite of the 
King, a brave and gallant gentleman without a doubt, did 
take her from me, and by favour of his King did win and 
marry her. Natheless, so long as she did live, the con- 
nection was ever kept up betwixt us, and I have always 
honoured her well. I know not an if I shall be blamed 
for having told this tale, for 'tis a common saying that 
all tales about a man's self be bad. Anyway I have let 
it out this time; as indeed throughout my book I have 
related not a few stories of myself in divers relations, 
though I do generally suppress the name. 

Other girls there be again of so merry a complexion 
and so lighthearted, so devoted to amusement and en- 
joyment, they never have another thought in their heads 




but to laugh, and make sport and pastime, and never time 
to hear or dream of anything else but only their little 
amusements. I have known many such which had rather 
hear a fiddle play, or dance or leap or run, than hearken 
to any love discourse whatsoever; while other some do 
so adore the chase they should better be called servants 
of Diana than of Venus. I did once know a brave and 
valiant Lord, since dead, which fell so deep in love with 
a maid, and a great lady to boot, that he was like to die ; 
"for whenas I am fain," he used to say, "to declare my 
passion, she doth answer me never a word but about her 
dogs and her hunting. I would to heaven I were meta- 
morphosed into a hunting-dog or greyhound, and my 
soul entered in their body, according to Pythagoras' 
opinion, to the end she might give some heed to my love, 
and I be healed of my wound." Yet afterward did he leave 
her, for he was not good lackey or huntsman enough to 
go everywhere a-following her about, wherever her lusty 
humours, her pleasures and amusements might lead her. 
Yet must we note one fact. Maids of this sort, after 
leaving their chickenhood behind and outgrowing the pip, 
(as we say of poultry), having taken their fill of these 
childish amusements, do always come, at long last, to es- 
say a woman's pleasures too. Such young girls do re- 
semble little wolf-cubs, which be so pretty, engaging and 
playful in their downy youth ; yet being come to maturity, 
they do ever take to evil courses and ravening and kill- 
ing. The sort of girls I am speaking of do ever the like, 
who after much sport and youthful merriment, after 
pleasures of all kinds, hunting, dancing, leaping, skip- 
ping and jiggingj do always, I ween, indulge at last in 
dame Venus' gentle sport. In a word, to put it briefly, 




scarce ever a one of the sex is seen, maid, wife or widow, 
but sooner or later she and all her sisters do burn, in 
season or out of season, as do all woods, excepting only 
one, yclept the lartx, the which they do in no wise re- 

Now this Larix is a wood which will never burn, and 
maketh neither fire, flame nor ash, as Julius Caesar did 
find. On his return back from Gaul, he had ordered the 
inhabitants of Piedmont to furnish him vivers, and estab- 
lish magazines on his main line of march. He was duly 
obeyed, except by the garrison of a castle called Larig- 
num, whither had withdrawn certain ill-disposed rascals, 
recusants and rebels, the result being Caesar had to turn 
back and besiege the place. Coming nigh the fortress, he 
saw its defences were only of wood, whereat he did 
straightway make mock, deeming they would immediately 
take the same. Wherefore he did give orders at once to 
collect large plenty of fagots and straw to set fire to the 
bulwarks, and soon was there so huge a conflagration and 
mass of flame that all hoped soon to see the ruin and 
destruction of the fort. But lo ! whenas the fire was 
burned out and the flame disappeared, all were exceeding 
astonished, for they beheld the stronghold in the same 
state as before and quite unhurt, neither burned nor 
ruined one whit. This did compel Caesar to resort to 
other means, mining to wit, which did at last bring those 
within to come to terms and render up the place. From 
this Caesar did learn the virtues of this larix-wood, from 
the which the castle had its name of Larignum, because 
it was built and defended of the same. 

I ween there be many fathers, mothers, kinsmen and 
husbands, that would dearly like their daughters and 





wives should share the properties of this wood, that they 
should burn fiercely without its leaving mark or effect 
behind. They would have a far more unruffled mind and 
not so many suspicions a-buzzing in their heads, nor 
would there be so many whores on show nor cuckolds be- 
fore the world. But 'tis not really desirable in any shape 
or form, for the world would be clean depopulated, and 
folk would live therein like blocks of stone, without pleas- 
use or satisfaction. So many persons I wot of, of either 
sex, would say; and indeed Nature would be left imper- 
fect, instead of very perfect as she is. Following her 
kindly lead as our best captain, we need never fear to lose 
the right path. 




JELL! enough said of maids; 'tis but right we 
now proceed to speak of widows in their turn. 
The love of widows is good, easy and advan- 
tageous, seeing they be in full liberty of action, 
and in no sense slaves of fathers, mothers, brothers, kins- 
men and husbands, nor yet of any legal bar, a still more 
important point. A man may make love and lie with a 
widow as much as ever he please, he is liable to no penalty, 
as he is with maids or married women. In fact the Ro- 
mans, which people hath given us the most of the laws 
we have, did never make this act punishable, either in 
person or property. I have this from a great lawyer, who 
did cite Papinian for confirmation of the point, that 
great Roman jurisconsult, who treating of adultery de- 
clares : if occasionally under this term adultery hath been 
inadvertently included lawless intercourse with maid or 
widow, 'tis a misuse of words. In another passage the 
same authority saith: the heir hath no right of reproach 
or concern with the character of the deceased man's 
widow, except only if the deceased had in his lifetime 
brought action against his wife on this ground; then 
could the said heir take up and carry on the prpsecution, 



but not otherwise. And as a fact in all the whole of 
Roman law is no penalty ordained for the widow, except 
only for one that did marry again within the year of her 
mourning, or who without re-marrying had borne a child 
subsequently to the eleventh month of her first year of 
widowhood, this first year being deemed sacred to the 
honour of her former husband. There was likewise a law 
made by Heliogabalus, that no widow must marry again 
for one year after the death of her husband, to the end 
she might have due leisure to bewail his loss and deliber- 
ate carefully on the choice of a successor. A truly pater- 
nal law, and an excellent reason i' faith ! As for a widow's 
original dowry, the heir could not in any case rob her 
thereof, even though she should have given her person 
to every possible form of naughtiness. And for this my 
authority did allege a very good reason; for the heir 
having no other thought but only the property, if once 
a door were opened to him to accuse the widow in hope of 
making her forfeit this and so rob her of her dowry, she 
would be exposed at once to every calumny his malignity 
could invent. So there would be never a widow, no matter 
how virtuous and unoffending, could safeguard her from 
slanderous actions on the part of enterprising heirs. 

All this would seem to show, I think, that the Roman 
ladies did have good opportunities and occasion for self- 
indulgence. No need then to be astonished if one of them, 
in the reign of Marcus Aurelius, (as is found writ in that 
Emperor's life), as she was walking in her husband's 
funeral procession, and in the midst of all her cries, sobs, 
sighs, tears and lamentations, did so strictly press the 
hand of the gentleman which was her escort, as to surely 
signify thereby her willnigness for another taste of love 




and marriage. Accordingly at the end of a year, for he 
could not marry her before, without a special dispensation, 
as was done for Pompey whenas he did wed Caesar's daugh- 
ter, but this was scarce ever given but to the greatest 
personages, he did marry the lady, having meantime 
enjoyed some dainty foretastes, and picked many an early 
loaf out of the batch, as the saying goes. Mighty fain 
was this good lady to lose naught by procrastination, but 
take her measures in good time; yet for all this, she did 
lose never a doit of her property and original dowry. 

Thus fortunate were Roman widows, as are still in 
the main their French sisters, which for giving heart and 
fair body satisfaction, do lose naught of their rights; 
albeit several cases hereanent have been pleaded before 
our parliaments. Thus I wot of a great and wealthy 
French Lord, which did carry on a long process against 
his sister-in-law concerning her dowry, charging her that 
her life had been lascivious and with another crime of a 
less gay sort to boot. Natheless did she win her case; 
and the brother-in-law was obliged to dower her hand- 
somely and give her all that did belong to her. Yet was 
the governance of her son and daughter taken from her, 
seeing she had married again. This the judges and noble 
councillors of the parliaments do look to, forbidding 
widows that re-marry to have guardianship of their chil- 
dren. In spite of this I do know of widows which within 
the last few years have successfully asserted their rights, 
though re-married, over their daughters being under age, 
against their brothers-in-law and other kinsmen ; but then 
they were greatly helped by the influence of the Prince 
which was their protector. Indeed there is never a law a 
fine motte cannot traverse. Of these subjects I do now 





refrain me from speaking more, seeing 'tis not my trade ; 
so thinking to say something mighty clever, 'tis very 
like I may say what is quite from the point. I do refer me 
to our great men of the law. 

Now of our widows some be alway glad to try marriage 
once again and run its risks, like mariners that twice, 
thrice and four times saved from shipwreck do again and 
again go back to the sea, and as married women do, which 
in the pains of motherhood do swear and protest they will 
never, never go back to it again, and no man shall ever be 
aught to them, yet no sooner be they sound and clean 
again, but they take to the same old dance once more. So 
a Spanish lady, being in her pangs, had a candle lighted 
in honour of Our Lady of Mont-Sarrat, who much suc- 
cours women in child-birth. Yet did she fail not to have 
sore pain and swear right earnestly she would never go 
back to it any more. She was no sooner delivered but 
turning to her woman who held the candle still alight, she 
said, Serra esto cabttlo de candela para otra vez, "Put 
away that bit of candle for another time." 

Other ladies do prefer not to marry; and of these are 
always some, and always have been, which coming to be 
widows in the flower of their age, be content to stay so. 
Ourselves have seen the Queen Mother, which did become 
a widow at the age of seven or eight and thirty years, and 
did ever after keep that state; and fair, pleasant and 
agreeable as she was, did never so much as think of any 
man to be her second husband. No doubt it may be said 
on the other side, Whom could she have wedded suitable 
to her lofty estate and comparable with the great King 
Henri, her late lord and master ; beside she would thereby 
have lost the government of the Kingdom, which was 



better worth than an hundred husbands, and its enjoy- 
ment more desirable and pleasant? Yet is there no ad- 
vantage Love doth not make women forget; wherefore 
she is the more to be commended and worthy to be recorded 
in the temple of fame and immortality. For she did master 
and command her passions, not like another Queen, which 
unable to restrain herself, did wed her own steward of the 
household, by name the Sieur de Rabodanges. This the 
King, her son, did at first beginning find exceeding strange 
and bitter; but yet, because she was his mother, he did 
excuse and pardon the said Rabodanges for having mar- 
ried her; and it was arranged that by day, before the 
world, he should serve her alway as steward, not to deprive 
her, being the King's mother, of her proper state and dig- 
nity, but by night she should make of him what pleased 
her, using him either as servant or master at her choice, 
this being left to their own discretion and good pleasure. 
We may readily imagine who was master then; for every 
woman, be she as high-born as she may, coming to this 
point, is ever subject to the superior male, according to 
the law of nature and humanity in this matter. I have the 
tale from the late Grand Cardinal de Lorraine, second of 
the name and title, which did tell it at Poissy to King 
Francis II., the time he did institute the eighteen knights 
of the Order of Saint Michael, a very great number, 
and one never seen or heard of before then. Among 
others was the Seigneur de Rabodanges, a very old man, 
that had not been seen for years at Court, except on occa- 
sion of some of our warlike expeditions, he having 
withdrawn soon after the death of M. de Lautrec out of 
disappointment and despite, a common enough case, hav- 
ing lost his good master, the Captain of whose Guard he 





was, on his journey to the Kingdom of Naples, where he 
died. And the Cardinal did further say he did believe 
this M. de Rabodanges was descended of the marriage in 
question. Some while agone a lady of France did marry 
her page, so soon as ever his pagehood was expired and 
he his own master, thinking she had worn her widow's 
weeds quite long enough. 

Well, to leave this sort of widows, and say somewhat 
of more high-minded and prudent dames. 

We have had our Queen of France, Donna Isabelle 
of Austria, which was wife to the late King Charles IX., 
whom we may in all ways declare to have been one of the 
best, gentlest, wisest and most virtuous Queens that ever 
reigned of all the Kings and Queens that ever were. This 
I may confidently affirm, and every one that hath ever 
seen her or heard her speak will say the same, and this 
without disparaging others and with the most perfect 
truth. She was a very beautiful Princess, with features 
and face as fair and delicate as any lady at the Court, 
and most affable. Her figure too was very fine, albeit 
she did scarce reach the middle height. She was very sen- 
sible and prudent moreover, most virtuous and good- 
natured, and one that did never hurt or displeasure any, 
or give offence by so much as the smallest word. And in- 
deed she was very careful of her speech, saying but very 
little and alway in her native Spanish. 

She was truly pious, but no wise bigoted, not overmuch 
manifesting her religion by outward acts and shows, and 
an extremeity of devotion, such as I have seen some of our 
prayer-patterers display, but rather without missing any 
of the regular hour for supplication to God, she did 
employ these well and sufficiently, without going out of 



. :;.... . . . . . t . . t . . t . . ..... ... ; 

her way to borrow other extraordinary ones. 'Tis very 
true, as I have heard some of her ladies declare, that 
whenas she was to bed apart and hid, and her curtains 
close drawn, she would kneel there devoutly in her shift 
and make prayer to God by the space of an hour and a 
half, beating and tormenting her breast in her zeal of 

This habit had never been noted at all till after the 
death of King Charles her husband. But one night after 
she had gone to bed and all her women were retired, 
one of those which did sleep in her chamber, hearing her 
sighing, did bethink her to peep between the curtains, and 
saw her in the posture described, so praying and beseech- 
ing God, which practice she did continue well nigh every 
evening. At length the said bedchamber-woman, who was 
on very familiar terms with her, did venture to remon- 
strate one day with her on the ground she was hurting 
her health. The Queen was angered against the woman 
for her discovery and advice, and fain almost to deny the 
thing, and did straitly charge her to breathe never a word 
about it. Wherefore for that evening she did desist ; but 
in the night she did fully make up for it, supposing her 
women would not observe it. But they saw her, and found 
how it was, by the reflexion of her chamber-light of wax, 
the which she did keep burning by her bedside next the 
wall, for to read in her Book of Hours and pray God 
at whiles, using for this pious purpose the same space 
where other Queens and Princesses do keep their table of 
refection. Suchlike prayers do little resemble those of 
hypocrites, which wishing to appear religious before the 
world, do make their orisons and devotions publicly, and 




aye with mumbling of the lips, to the end folk may deem 
them exceeding devout and sanctified. 

Thus would our good Queen pray for the soul of the 
King, her husband, whom she did sorely grieve for, yet all 
the whole making her moan and lamentation not like a wild 
and desperate woman, screaming, and tearing her cheeks 
and hair, nor yet merely counterfeiting one that is com- 
mended for her tears, but sorrowing gently, dropping her 
fair and precious tears so tenderly, sighing so soft and low, 
as that 'twas plain to see she was restraining her grief all 
she could, to the end people might not think her desirous 
of making a fine seeming and grand impression (a thing I 
have seen many ladies do in such case), yet failing not at 
all to convince all of the deep anguish of her heart. Even 
so a torrent is ever more violent whose course is stayed 
than when it hath free space to run in. I do well remem- 
ber me how, all through the King's malady, her dear lord 
and husband, he lying in his bed and she coming to visit 
him, she would quick sit her down by his side, not close to 
his bed's-head, as is usual, but a little withdrawn, yet 
within his sight, where remaining without speaking scarce 
at all to him, or he to her, she would keep her eyes all the 
while so fixed upon him, that never taking them from off his 
face she did verily seem to be warming him in her heart with 
the heat of all the love she bare him. Presently she might 
be seen dropping tears so soft and secret, that any which 
had not chanced to note them, would have never known her 
grief. There would she sit, drying her wet eyes under pre- 
tence of using her handkerchief, that 'twas downright 
pity to every soul there (I saw the thing myself) to see 
her so troubled to hide her grief and love, and prevent the 
King from seeing the signs of her sorrow. Such was ever 




her practise in her husband's sickness; whereafter she 
would rise and hie her to her prayers for his restoration 
to health. She did truly love and honour him exceed- 
ingly, albeit she knew him of amorous complexion and that 
he had mistresses, whether for his renown or for his 
pleasure. But yet was she never a whit less kind, nor ever 
said an ill word to him, patiently bearing her little load 
of jealousy and the wrong he did her. She was a very 
meet and proper mate for him; for 'twas indeed fire 
and water come together in one, the King being naturally 
quick, hot and stirring, she cool and temperate in all 

I have been told on good authority, how that after her 
widowhood, among certain of her more privy ladies, which 
were for giving her such consolation as they could suggest, 
was one (for, as you may suppose, among so great a band 
there will alway be one more maladroit than the rest), 
which, thinking to please highly, did address her thus: 
"At least, Madam, an if instead of a daughter he had but 
left you a son, you would at this moment be the King's 
Queen Mother, and your dignity by so much increased and 
strengthened." But her answer was: "Alas! alas! say 
not such a thing. As if France had not misfortunes 
enough already, without my having caused yet another to 
be her utter ruin. For had I had a son, this would only 
have mean more factions, troubles and seditions for to get 
the care and guardianship of the young King during his 
infancy and minority. Hence would have sprung more 
war and strife than ever, each striving to make his profit 
and draw advantage by plundering the poor child, as they 
were fain to do to the late King, my husband, and would 
have done but for the Queen, his mother, and his good 



servants which did oppose such doings. But an if I had 
had a son, I should have but found unhappiness in the 
thought of having borne him, and gotten a thousand 
maledictions of the people, whose voice is the voice of 
God. Wherefore I tell you I do praise my God, and am 
right thankful for the fruit he hath vouchsafed me, be 
it for better or for worse to me in the end." Such was 
the kindness of this good-hearted Princess toward the 
country of her adoption. 

I have likewise heard tell how at the massacre of the 
Saint Bartholomew, the Queen, knowing naught of it and 
having never the least suspicion in the world of what was 
plotting, did get her to bed in her usual fashion. On her 
waking in the morning, she was first thing informed of the 
fine mystery that was a-playing. "Woe is me!" she did 
cry out instantly, "the King, my husband, doth he know 
of it ?" "Of a surety, Madam," came the answer ; " 'tis 
he that doth order it." "Great God," she cried in horror, 
"what thing is this? and what counsellors be they which 
have given him this advice? Oh, God! I do beseech and 
pray thee to pardon this sin, for an if Thou be not piti- 
ful, this offence, I fear me sore, is beyond all pardon." 
Then she did quick ask for her Book of Hours, and so 
to prayers and supplication to the Almighty, the tears 
dropping from her eyes. 

Prithee consider the wisdom and goodness the said Queen 
did manifest in not approving of such a merrymaking and 
the cruel game that was played thereat, and this although 
she had much cause to desire the utter extermination of the 
Admiral (Coligny) and his fellow religionists, seeing they 
were absolutely opposed in every way to her own faith, the 
which she did adore and honour more than aught else in all 





the world, and on the other hand because she could plainly 
see how they did trouble the Kingdom of her gracious lord 
and husband. Moreover the Emperor her father had 
actually said to her, as she was setting forth with him on 
her way to France: "My daughter," he said, "you are 
going as Queen to a Kingdom the fairest, strongest and 
most puissant in the world, and so far I do hold you a very 
happy woman. Yet would you be happier still, an if you 
could but find it at peace within its borders and as flourish- 
ing as erstwhile it was used to be. But you will actually 
find it sorely torn, dismembered, divided and weakened, 
for albeit the King, your future husband, is on the right 
side, yet the Princes and Lords of the Protestant faith do 
much hurt and injury on the other." And indeed she did 
find it even as he said. 

Being now a widow, many of the most clear-sighted folk 
I wot of at Court, both men and women, did deem the new 
King, on his arrival back from Poland, would marry her, 
in spite of the fact she was his sister-in-law. But then 
he could well do so by virtue of the Pope's dispensation, 
who can do much in this respect, and especially where 
great personages be concerned, in view of the public 
advantage involved. And there were many reasons for 
concluding the said marriage, the which I have left to 
more authoritative writers than myself to deduce, without 
my alleging them here. But amongst others one of the 
chiefest was to recognise by the marriage the great 
obligations the King lay under to the Emperor on the 
occasion of his quitting Poland for to return to France. 
For there can be no reasonable doubt, an if the Emperor 
had chose to put the smallest obstacle in his path, he 
would never have been able to get away and cross the 




frontier and make his way to France. The Poles were 
anxious to keep him, only he did leave them without ever 
a farewell ; while the Germans were on the watch on every 
side to capture him (as was done to the gallant King 
Richard of England, on his return from the Holy Land, 
as we read in our Chronicles), and would have certainly 
held him prisoner and made him pay ransom, or maybe 
worse. For they were exceeding sore with him, for the 
sake of the Feast of Saint Bartholomew, or at any rate 
the Protestant Princes were. However, he did voluntarily 
and without ceremony throw himself suddenly on the pro- 
tection of the Emperor, which did receive him very gra- 
ciously and lovingly, and with great honour and much 
gracious familiarity, as if the twain had been brothers. 
Then presently, after he had tarried with him some days, 
he did in person convoy him a day or two's journey on 
his way, and give him a perfectly safe passage through his 
dominions, so by his favour he did eventually win to Carin- 
thia, the Venetian territories, Venice itself, and presently 
his own kingdom. 

Such was the obligation the King of France lay under 
to the Emperor, one which many persons, as I have said, 
did suppose the former would have paid back by binding 
yet firmer his alliance with him. But at the time he went 
into Poland, he had seen at Blamont in Lorraine, the fair 
Louise de Lorraine, Mademoiselle de Vaudemont, one of 
the most beautiful, virtuous and accomplished Princess 
in all Christendom. On her he did cast such ardent eyes 
as that being presently inflamed with deepest love, and 
keeping his passion warm all the while he was away, he did 
straightway on his return to Lyons despatch M. du Gua, 
one of his chief est favourites (as truly he did in every way 




deserve to be), to Lorraine. Arrived there, he did settle 
and conclude the match betwixt him and her very easily and 
with no great disputing, as you may well imagine, such 
good fortune being beyond the utmost hopes of him and 
his daughter, the one to be father-in-law of the King of 
France, the other to be Queen of that Realm. Of this 
Princess I do propose to speak elsewhere. 


|O return once more to our little Queen. Wearied 
of a longer tarrying in France for sundry 
reasons, and in especial because she was not 
properly respected and appreciated there as 
she did deserve to be, she did resolve to go finish out the 
remainder of her virtuous days with the Emperor, her 
father, and the Empress, her mother. During her resi- 
dence at their Court, the Catholic King was widowed of 
his Queen, Anne of Austria, own sister of the said French 
Queen Elisabeth. The latter he would fain have married 
and did send to beg the Empress, who was sister of the said 
Catholic King, to open the first proposals to that effect. 
But she would never hearken, once, twice or three times 
that her mother spake to her of the matter, appealing to 
the ashes of the late King, her husband, the which she 
declared she would never insult by a second marriage, 
and likewise alleging the over close consanguinity and 
near relationship which was betwixt the two, whereby the 
marriage might well anger God sorely. Whereupon the 
Empress and the King her brother did bethink them to 
have a Jesuit Father, a very learned and very eloquent 
man, speak with her, who did exhort and sermonize her 



all ever he could, not forgetting to quote all the most tell- 
ing passages of Holy Scripture of every sort that might 
advance his object. But the Queen did straight con- 
found him with other as good and more appropriate quota- 
tions, for since her widowhood she had applied her ear- 
nestly to the study of God's Word, alleging moreover her 
fixed determination, which was her chiefest bulwark, never 
to forget her husband in a second marriage. The end was 
the Jesuit came back with naught accomplished. However, 
being strongly urged there by letters from the King of 
Spain, he did return once again to the attack, not content 
with the firm answer he had already had of the said 
Princess. The latter, unwilling to waste more time in vain 
contest with him, did treat him to some strong words and 
actual menaces, cutting him short with the warning that 
if he would persist in deafening her any more with the 
matter, she would make him repent his interference, even 
threatening she would have him whipped in her kitchen. 
I have further heard tell, I know not with how much 
truth, that, the man having attacked her for the third 
time, she went beyond threats, and had him chastised 
for his insolence. But this I do not believe, seeing she 
did too well love folk of holy life, such as these men be. 
Such was the constancy and noble firmness of this vir- 
tuous Queen, a constancy she did keep unbroken to the 
end of her days, ever honouring the sacred ashes of her 
husband. Faithfully did she water these with her mourn- 
ful tears, whose fountain at the last drying up, she did 
succumb to her sorrow and die very young. She could 
not have been more than five and thirty at her decease, 
truly a quite inestimable loss, for she might long have 





been a mirror of virtue to all honourable ladies throughout 

And verily, showing as she did the love she bare the 
King, her husband, by her constancy, virtuous continence 
and unceasing plaints, she did manifest the same even more 
finely toward the Queen of Navarre, her sister-in-law. 
For knowing her to be in great extremity of distress, and 
reduced to live in a remote Castle of Auvergne, all but 
deserted of all her friends and followers and by the most 
part of those she had erstwhile obliged, she did send to 
greet her and offer her every assistance. In fact she did 
presently give her one-half of all her jointure which she 
did enjoy in France, sharing with her as if she had been 
her own proper sister. They say indeed this high-born 
Queen would have had no little hardship to endure but 
for this great liberality of her good and gentle kinswoman. 
Accordingly she did pay her great respect, loving and 
honouring her so well she had all the difficulty in the world 
to bear her death with proper patience. Indeed, for 
twenty days running she did keep her bed, weeping and 
crying and making continual moan; and ever after did 
naught but regret and deplore her loss, devoting to her 
memory the noblest words, such that there could be 
no need to borrow better to praise her withal and keep 
her remembrance immortally green. I have been told 
further that Queen Elisabeth too did compose and endite 
a work of such beauty it cometh near God's own word, 
as also one containing the history of all that did hap in 
France while she was in that country. I know not if 
this be true, but I have been assured the book was seen 
in the hands of the Queen of Navarre, as though it had 
been sent her as a last present before the other's death. 




'Twas most highly thought on of her, and pronounced 
a most admirable production. At the word of so noble 
and divine an oracle, what can we do but believe 'twas 
verily so? 

Such then is the summary account I have been able to 
give of our good Queen Elisabeth, of her kindness, virtue, 
constancy and faithfulness, and her true and loyal love 
toward the King, her husband. And 'twas but her nature 
to be so good and virtuous (I have heard M. de Lansac, 
who was in Spain when she died, tell how the Empress 
said to him on that occasion, El mejor de nosotros es 
muerto, "The best of us all is dead"), and we may well 
believe how in such actions this Queen was but for 
imitating her own mother, her great aunts and aunts. 
For the Empress, her mother, albeit she was left a widow 
when still quite young and very handsome, would never 
marry again, but did ever after continue in her widow- 
hood, right wisely and steadfastly, having quitted Austria 
and Germany, the scene of her rule, after the death of the 
Emperor, her husband. She went to join her brother in 
Spain, having been summoned of him and besought to go 
thither to help him in the heavy burden of his affairs. This 
she did, for indeed she was a very prudent and well-coun- 
selled Princess. I have heard the late King Henri III., 
who was more skilled in reading character than any other 
man in all his Kingdom, declare she was in his opinion 
one of the most honourable, wise and accomplished Prin- 
cesses in the world. 

On this, her journey to Spain, after passing through 
the divers States of Germany, she did presently arrive at 
Genoa in Italy, where she embarked. But seeing 'twas in 
winter, in the month of December, that she took ship, a 


IHIfm/ M W, ffiWWmMhflyg^^ 



storm did overtake her at Marseilles, at which port she 
was forced to cast anchor in the roads. Yet would she 
never come within the harbour, she or her galleys, for fear 
of giving any ground for umbrage or suspicion; nor did 
herself enter the town but only once, to see the sights. 
Off this port she did tarry seven or eight days, a-waiting 
for fair weather. Her most favourite course was every 
morning to leave her galley (for she did usually sleep 
a-board), and so during the day to go hear the service of 
mass at the Church of St. Victor with very devout atten- 
tion. Then presently, her dinner having been brought and 
made ready in the Abbey, she would there dine ; after which 
she would indulge in discourse with her ladies, or her folk 
generally, or else with divers gentlemen of Marseilles, 
which did show her all the honour and respect due to so 
noble a Princess, the King of France indeed having bid 
them specially to receive her as it were his own kingly per- 
son in recompense for the good welcome and excellent 
cheer she had given him at Vienna. This she did readily 
enough perceive ; and for that reason would converse very 
intimately with them and show herself exceeding con- 
descending, treating them more after the German and 
French fashion than the Spanish. In fact they were no 
less delighted with her than she with them, and did write 
a most courteous letter to the King, thanking him and 
informing him they were as worthy and honourable folk 
as ever she had seen in any place. Moreover she did 
make separate mention by name of some score or so 
of them, among whom was M. Castellan, known as the 
Seigneur Altyvity, Captain of the King's Galleys, a 
man much renowned for having wedded the fair Chasteau- 
neuf, a Court lady, and for having killed the Grand Prior, 




himself falling along with him, as I do hope to relate in 
another place. It was none other than his wife which did 
relate to me what I here set down, and did tell me of all 
the perfections of this noble Princess, and how pleasant 
she did find her enforced stay at Marseilles, and how she 
admired and enjoyed the place in her walks abroad. But 
evening once come, she did never fail to return to sleep 
on board her galley, to the end, the moment fine weather 
and a favourable wind should come, she might straight 
make sail, or mayhap because she was anxious to give no 
cause of umbrage. I was at Court at the time these facts 
were reported to the King concerning her passing visit, 
who was most anxious to know if she had been well received, 
and how she was, and did wish her well in all respects. 
The said Princess is yet alive, and doth continue in her 
good and virtuous behaviour, having done her brother 
excellent service, by all I am told. She did later retire for 
her final abode and dwelling-place to a Convent of religious 
women, called the descalgadas (unshod), because they do 
wear neither shoes nor stockings. This house was founded 
by her sister, the Princess of Spain. 

This same Princess of Spain was a very beautiful lady 
in her day, and of a most courtly dignity. Else truly she 
would not have been a Spanish Princess ; for of a surety, 
fine bearing and becoming grace do ever go along with 
Royalty, and above all with Spanish Royalty. Myself 
have had the honour of seeing her and speaking with her 
on terms of some intimacy, whenas I was in Spain after 
my return from Portugal. The first time I went to pay 
my duty to our Queen Elisabeth of France, and was dis- 
coursing with her, answering her many questions as to 
the news from France and Portugal, they came to inform 




the Queen that the Princess of Spain was coming in. 
Instantly she said to me: "Nay! do not retire, Monsieur 
de Bourdeille ; you will see a very fair and noble Princess, 
and will find pleasure in so doing. She will be very 
glad to see you and to ask you news of the King, her 
son, as you have just lately seen him." Hereupon cometh 
the Princess herself, whom I thought exceeding handsome, 
and in my opinion very becomingly attired, on her head 
a Spanish cap of white crepe, coming low down in a 
point over the face, but not otherwise in widow's weeds, 
according to the Spanish fashion, for indeed her almost 
constant wear was silk. At first I did gaze long at her 
and admire her beauty, till just as I was growing quite 
enthralled, the Queen did call me up, and told me the 
Princess was fain to hear news of me concerning the King 
her son ; for I had already overheard the Queen informing 
her how she had but now been conversing with a gentleman 
of the King's, late come from Portugal. At this, I came 
forward, and did kiss her gown in the Spanish mode, 
whereupon she did greet me very graciously and familiarly, 
and began asking me news of the King, her son, his be- 
haviour, and what I thought of him. For at the time 
a proposed match was being talked of betwixt him and 
the noble Princess Marguerite of France, the King's sister 
and now Queen of Navarre. I did give her abundance of 
information ; for in those days I did speak Spanish as well 
as my native French, or even better. Among other ques- 
tions, she did ask me, "Was her son handsome, and who 
was he most like?" I told her he was one of the hand- 
somest Princes in Christendom, as truly he was, and that 
he was like her in every way, and the living image of her 




beauty, whereat she gave a little smile and blush, plainly 
showing her pleasure at what I had said. 

After we had conversed a long while together, the 
Queen's attendants came to summon her to supper, and so 
the two sisters separated. Then did the Queen say to me 
(she had been amusing herself at the window, yet had 
heard most of what we said), with a laugh: "You did 
please her mightily by what you said as to the likeness 
betwixt her son and her." Presently she asked what I 
thought of her, and if I did not think her a noble lady, 
and such as she had described her, and anon remarked: 
"I imagine she would be right glad to wed the King, my 
brother, and I should dearly love it." All this I did duly 
report later to the Queen Mother, when I was returned 
back to the French Court, which was at the time at Aries 
in Provence. But she did declare the Princess was too old 
for him, old enough to be his mother. I informed her 
moreover of what I had been told in Spain, and did con- 
sider of good authority, to wit that she was firm resolved 
never to marry again, an it were not to wed the King 
of France, or failing this to withdraw from the world 

And truly she did grow so enamoured of this high match 
and fair prospect, for she was of high heart and ambition, 
and she did firmly believe she was approaching its accom- 
plishment, or failing this, was resolved to end her days in 
the convent I have spoken of, where already she was having 
buildings constructed against her possible retirement from 
the world. Accordingly she did long cling to this hope and 
belief, ever wisely maintaining her widowhood, till she did 
learn of the King's marriage with her niece. Then, all her 
hopes frustrated, she did pronounce these words expressive 





of despite or something like it, as I have been told : Aunque 
la nieta sea por su verano mas moza, y menos cargada de 
anos que la tia, la hermosura de la tia, ya en su estio 
toda hecha y formada por sus gentiles y fructiferos anos, 
vale mas que todos los frutos que su edad florescida da 
esperanza a venir; porque la menor desdicha humana los 
Tiara caer y perder ni mas n'i menos que alguinos arbo- 
les, los quales, en el verano, por sus Undas y blancos flores 
nos prometen linda fruta en el estio, y el menor viento 
que acade los lleva y abate, no quedando que las hojas. 
Ea! dunque pasase todo con la voluntad de Dios, con el 
qual desde agora me voy, no con otro, para siempre 
jamas, me casar, "True the niece is younger and in her 
first prime, and less advanced in years than the aunt, yet 
is the beauty of the latter, already in its summer glory, 
fully grown and formed by the gracious years, and bearing 
fruit, better worth than all the fruits that the other's age, 
now but beginning to bloom, doth give expectation of. 
For the smallest human accident will destroy the same, 
withering and ruining them, just like trees in the spring- 
time, which by their fair white blossoms do promise us 
fair and excellent fruits in summer. But let only a little 
blast of wind arise, and lo ! they be broken off and beaten 
down and spoiled, and naught left but only leaves. Well ! 
God's will be done, with whom I am about to wed for all 
eternity, and with no human bridegroom at all." So said, 
so done; and thereafter she did lead a life so good and 
holy, altogether removed from the wicked world, as that 
she hath left behind to all ladies, great and small, a noble 
example for their imitation. 

Some folks might possibly say, "Well ! God be thanked 
she could not marry King Charles ; for be sure, and if this 




could have been brought about, she would have sent far 
enough the hard life of a widow, and been right glad to 
take up again the soft and pleasant one of a wife." This 
may well be allowed ; but this likewise it must be granted 
on the other hand, that the great wish she did display to 
wed this puissant Monarch was but a manifestation of her 
proud and ambitious Spanish heart, for to show her high 
spirit, and prove she would in no wise take a lowly place ; 
but seeing her sister an Empress, not able to be one too, 
yet fain to rival her, she did therefore aspire to be Queen 
of the realm of France, which is as good as any Empire, or 
better, and, if not in actual fact, yet in will and desire to 
be on an equal footing with her. Such motives do well 
accord with her character, as I have heard it described. 
To make an end, she was in mine opinion one of the most 
noble and high-bred foreign Princesses I have ever seen, 
albeit she may perhaps be reproached with her retirement 
from the world, due rather to despite than to genuine 
devotion. Yet she did thus piously withdraw her; and 
her good life and holy have sufficiently made manifest the 
true sanctity of her character. 


ER aunt, Queen Mary of Hungary, did the like, 
but at a very advanced age, and this no less 
from her own desire to retire from the world 
than in order to help her brother the Emperor 
to serve God well and piously. This same Queen was 
widowed at a very early age, having lost King Louis, her 
husband, which fell very young in a battle he fought with 
the Turks, a battle he should never of rights have lost, 



but for the obstinacy of a Cardinal, which had much in- 
fluence over him and did over-persuade him against his 
better judgement, declaring 'twas not meet to distrust 
God's power and a righteous cause. Though he should 
have but ten thousand Hungarians, more or less, on his 
side, yet these being all good Christians and fighting in 
God's quarrel, he should easily rout ten thousand Turks. 
In fine he did so incite and push him to recklessness, as 
that he did lose the battle; and presently attempting to 
retreat was entangled in a marsh and there choked. 

The same fate befell the last King of Portugal, Don 
Sebastian, which did perish miserably, having risked battle 
with too weak a force against the Moors, that were three 
times as strong as himself. This was done through the 
advice, preaching and obstinacy of sundry Jesuits, which 
were forever alleging the power of Almighty God, who 
with a look could strike a whole host dead, above all when 
this was banded together against him. An excellent and 
a true doctrine doubtless ; yet must we not be over confi- 
dent and abuse God's promises, for His secret purpose 
will alway be past our finding out. Some say the Jesuit 
Fathers gave the counsel they did in all good faith, as is 
quite credible ; others that they were traitors and had been 
gained over by the King of Spain, to the end they might 
so bring about the undoing of the young and gallant King 
of Portugal, courageous and fiery as he was, and himself 
be the better able to lay his hands on that he did after 
seize. Be this as it may, 'tis certain both these disasters 
befell through these folk, which be fain to manage armies, 
yet have never learned the trade of war. 

And this is why the great Due de Guise, after he had 
been sore deceived in his Italian expedition, was often used 


* * . . . 4 . . . ^r^u/4^^tvir?S?!r/svi.7\;r?iv.r?\itv 


to say, "I do love God's Church, yet will I never under- 
take a conquest on the word and faith of any Priest." By 
this he was for chiding the Pope, Caraff a, known as Paul 
IV., which had not kept his promises made to him in the 
most impressive and solemn words, or mayhap the Cardi- 
nal, his brother, who had gone all the way to Rome to 
discuss the matter and see how the land lay, after which 
he did recklessly urge his brother to the enterprise. It 
may well be the aforesaid Due de Guise had in his mind 
both Pope and Cardinal ; for undoubtedly, as I have been 
informed, whenever the Duke did repeat this saying, as oft 
he did, before his brother, the latter deeming it a stone 
pitched into his garden, would be secretly much enraged 
and furiously angry. This is a digression, but my sub- 
ject seemed to warrant it. 

To return now to our good Queen Mary of Hungary. 
After this disaster to her husband, she was left a very 
young and beautiful widow, as I have heard many persons 
say which have seen her, as also according to the portraits 
of her I have seen, which do all represent her as very fair, 
giving her never an ugly or censurable feature, except 
only her heavy, projecting mouth, or "Austrian lip." 
However this doth not really come from the House of 
Austria, but from that of Burgundy, as I have heard a 
lady of the Court at that time relate. She said how once 
when Queen Eleanor was passing by way of Dijon on 
her way to pay her devotions at the Monastery of the 
Chartreuse in that region, and to visit the reverend 
sepulchres of her ancestors, the Dukes of Burgundy, she 
was curious to have these opened, as many monarchs have 
done with theirs. Some of the bodies she did find so 
whole and well preserved she did recognise many of their 




features, and amongst others the mouth. Whereupon 
she did suddenly cry: "Ah! I thought we did take our 
mouths from them of Austria; but by what I see here, 
we seem rather to get them from Mary of Burgundy, 
our ancestress, and the Dukes of Burgundy, our ancestors. 
If ever I see the Emperor, my brother, I will tell him; 
nay ! I will write him at once." The lady which was then 
present told me she did herself hear these words, declaring 
further the Queen did pronounce them as if pleased at her 
discovery. And in this she was very right, for truly 
the House of Burgundy was every whit as good as that 
of Austria, springing as it did from a son of France, 
Philip le Hardi, from whom they had inherited much 
wealth and courage and high spirit. Indeed I imagine 
there were never four greater Dukes, one after the other, 
than were these four Dukes of Burgundy. Truly I may be 
charged with everlastingly wandering from my subject; 
but 'tis an easy matter to excuse me, I think, seeing I have 
never been taught the art of careful and correct writing. 
Our Queen Mary of Hungary then was a most fair and 
agreeable Princess, and a very amiable, albeit she did 
show herself somewhat over masculine. But for that she 
was none the worse for love, nor yet for war, which she did 
take for her chief est exercise. The Emperor, her brother, 
seeing her meet for this work and very apt therein, did 
send to summon her and beg her to come to him, for to 
give her the charge of her aunt Marguerite of Flanders 
had held, which was a very wise Princess and one that did 
govern his Province of the Low Countries with as much 
gentleness as the other had used severity. Wherefore so 
long as she lived, King Francis did never direct his arms 
toward that quarter, saying he would fain avoid giving 





displeasure to so noble a Princess, which did show her 
so well disposed to France, and so wise and virtuous to 
boot. Unhappy too beyond her deserts in her marriages, 
whereof the first was with King Charles VIII., by whom 
she was while still quite a girl sent back to her father's 
house; the second with the King of Aragon's son, John 
by name, of whom she had a posthumous son that died 
soon after its birth. The third was with the handsome 
Duke Philibert of Savoy, of whom she had no offspring, 
and for that cause did bear the device, Fortune i/nfortune, 
fors une. She doth lie with her husband in the beautiful 
and most splendid Cloister of Brou, near the town of 
Bourg en Bresse, a Church I have myself visited. 

This same Queen of Hungary then did greatly help the 
Emperor, seeing how isolated he was. 'Twas true he had 
Ferdinand, King of the Romans, his brother; yet was 
it all he could do to make head against that great con- 
queror, the Sultan Soliman. The Emperor had moreover 
on his hands the affairs of Italy, which was at that time 
all a-fire; while Germany was little better by reason of 
the Grand Turk, and he was harassed to boot with Hun- 
gary, Spain at the time of its rebellion under M. de Chie- 
vres, the Indies, the Low Countries, Barbary, and France, 
which last was the most sore burden of all, in a word with 
the business of nigh half the world, in a manner of speak- 
ing. He did make his sister Governess General of all the 
Netherlands, where by the space of two or three and 
twenty years she did him such excellent service I really 
cannot tell what he would have done without her. So 
he did entrust her with entire charge of the government 
of those districts, and even when himself was in Flanders, 
did leave all the management of his provinces in that quar- 




ter in her hands. The council was held under her direction 
and in her apartments even when the Emperor was present 
and did attend, as I have been told he often did. 'Tis 
true she was very able and did manage it all for him, 
reporting to him all that had taken place at the meeting 
when he was not there, in all which he did find the utmost 
pleasure. She did carry out some very successful wars 
too, whether by her generals or in person, always riding 
a-horse, like a noble-hearted Amazon-queen. 

She it was which did first begin those burnings of 
strongholds in our land of France, destroying thus some 
of the finest houses and castles, and in especial that of 
Folembray, a beautiful and agreeable residence our Kings 
had built them for the delight and pleasure of the chase. 
At this the King did feel so sore despite and displeasure 
as that no long while after she did get of him as good as 
she gave, for he took his revenge on her noble house of 
Bains, the which was held for one of the marvels of the 
world, shaming so to speak all other beautiful buildings 
of the earth, and I have heard those say that had seen 
it in its perfection, comparable even to the seven wonders 
of the world, so renowned in Antiquity. 'Twas there she 
did entertain the Emperor Charles and all his Court, 
the time when his son, King Philip, came from Spain to 
Flanders for to visit his father, such excellence and per- 
fection of magnificence being then displayed that naught 
else was spoke of at the time save only las fiestas de Bains, 
as the Spaniards said. Moreover I do remember on the 
journey to Bayonne, when some very splendid shows were 
given, tilting at the ring, combats, masquerades and games, 
'twas all naught to be compared with these famous fiestas 
de Bains, as sundry old Spanish noblemen which had 





witnessed them did declare, and as I have seen myself in 
a Work writ in Spanish on purpose to celebrate them. 
And it may be certainly said there hath never aught been 
done or seen finer, equalling even the splendours of Roman 
days, and copying their old-time sports, always excepting 
the fights of Gladiators and wild beasts. But with this 
only exception, the feasts of Bains were finer, more agree- 
able, as well as more varied and general. 

These fetes I would most dearly love to describe here, 
according to the particulars I have gleaned from this 
Spanish work, as well as learned from sundry eye-wit- 
nesses, and in especial from Madame de Fontaine, sur- 
named Torcy, acting as sister for the time being to Queen 
Eleanor; but I should be blamed as too continually di- 
gressing from my subject. So I must e'en keep it for a 
tid-bit some other time, the matter really meriting full 
description. Amongst the most splendid of the shows, 
I will name but this. She had a great fortress of brick, 
which was assaulted, defended, and relieved by a body 
of six thousand foot-men of veteran regiments, bombarded 
by thirty pieces of ordnance, whether in the trenches or 
on the walls, with all identical methods and ceremonies 
as in actual war. The siege did last three days and an 
half, and so fine a sight was never seen ; for assaults were 
delivered, relief brought up, the besieged beaten back, 
both cavalry and infantry participating in the manffiuvres, 
under charge of the Prince of Piedmont, the place being 
eventually surrendered on terms, in part favourable, in 
part rather hard, the garrison being granted their lives 
and withdrawing under escort. In a word no detail of 
real war was forgot, all to the singular gratification 
of the Emperor. 



:^t^28g!5& n ,>s!i!^^ 

Rest assured, if the Queen was lavish on that occasion, 
'twas but to show her brother that what he had had of 
him, estates, pensions, benefits, share of his conquests, all 
was vowed to the further heightening of his glory and 
pleasure. Wherefore the said Emperor was greatly pleased 
and did highly commend and approve the great expendi- 
ture, and especially that lavished on his own chamber. 
This was hung with tapestry of a raised warp, all of gold, 
silver and silk, where were figured and represented in their 
true colours all the famous conquests, high emprises, war- 
like expeditions and battles, he had ever made and won, 
above all not forgetting the defeat of Soliman before 
Vienna, and the taking prisoner of King Francis I. In 
fact there was naught therein that was not of the best and 
most highly wrought. 

But truly the unfortunate mansion did lose all its splen- 
dour later, forasmuch as it was utterly devastated, pil- 
laged, ruined and overthrown. I have heard say how its 
mistress, on learning this ruin, did fall in such distress, 
despite and fury, that 'twas many days ere she could be 
appeased. Subsequently, when one day passing near the 
spot, she was fain to see the remains, and gazing very 
sadly at these, did swear, the tears in her eyes, that all 
France should repent the deed and be right sorry for 
these conflagrations, and that she would never be content 
till yonder proud Castle of Fontainebleau, whereof folk 
did make so much, was levelled with the earth and not 
one stone left on another. And in very deed she did spew 
out her anger right fiercely over the unhappy land of 
Picardy, which felt the sore effects of her wrath and the 
fires she kindled there ; and I ween, if truce had not inter- 
fered, her vengeance would have been startling. For 




she was of a proud and hard heart, and slow to be 
appeased, and was generally held, of her own people as 
well as ours, somewhat over cruel ; but such is ever the bent 
of women, especially of high-born women, which be very 
ready to take vengeance for any offence done them. The 
Emperor, by all they say, did only love her the more 
for this. 

I have heard tell how, when the Emperor did abdicate 
at Brussels and strip him of his power, the ceremony being 
held in a great Hall wherein he had called together an 
assembly of his Estates, after he had made a set speech 
and said all he wished to his son, and had likewise humbly 
thanked his sister, Queen Mary, which was seated by the 
side of the Emperor her brother, the latter presently 
rising from her seat, and with a deep reverence to her 
brother, did address the people with a grave and dignified 
port and much confidence and grace, and said as follows: 
"Gentlemen, for these three and twenty years past that 
my brother, the Emperor, hath been pleased to grant 
me the charge and government of these Low Countries, 
I have ever employed in the said task all the means and 
abilities that God, Nature and Fortune have bestowed on 
me, for to perform the same to the utmost of my powers. 
But an if in aught I have made failure, I am surely to 
be excused, for I think I have never forgot my duty nor 
spared the proper pains. Yet, and if I have lacked in 
anything, I do beg you to forgive me. However, if there 
be any one of you will not so do, but is ill content with 
me and my government, why ! 'tis the smallest of my cares, 
seeing the Emperor, my brother, is well content, and to 
please him, and him alone, hath ever been the chiefest 
of my desires and cares." With these words and another 



deep reverence to the Emperor, she did resume her seat. 
I have heard some say this speech was found of many 
somewhat over proud and haughty, more especially on 
occasion her giving up her charge and bidding farewell 
to a people she was about to leave. 'Twould surely have 
been more natural, had she desired to leave a good savour 
in their mouth and some grief behind her on her departure. 
But for all this she had never a thought, seeing her sole 
end was to please and content her brother, and from 
henceforth to take no heed of the world but keep her 
brother company in his retirement and life of prayer. 

This account I had of a gentleman of my brother's 
suite, which was at the time at Brussels, whither he had 
gone to treat of the ransom of my brother aforesaid, he 
having been taken prisoner in Hedin, and having spent five 
years in confinement at Lille in Flanders. The said 
gentleman was present throughout this assembly and 
mournful abdication of the Emperor ; and did tell me how 
not a few persons were something scandalized in secret 
at this haughty pronouncement of the Queen's, yet did 
never dare say a word or let their opinion appear, seeing 
plainly they had to do with a masterful dame, which, if 
angered, would surely before her final departure have 
done something startling for a last stroke. 

Presently freed of all her charge and responsibility, she 
doth accompany her brother to Spain; which land she 
did never after quit, either she or her sister Queen Eleanor, 
till the day of death. Of the three, each did survive the 
other by one year; the Emperor died first, the Queen of 
France next, being the eldest, then the Queen of Hungary 
after the two others, her brother and sister. Both sisters 
did behave them wisely and well in widowhood ; the Queen 





of Hungary was a longer time widow than her sister, and 
did never marry again, while her sister did so twice, partly 
to be Queen of France, a dainty morsel, partly by the 
prayers and persuasion of the Emperor, to the end she 
might be a sure pledge of peace and public quietness. Not 
that the said pledge did avail for long while, for War 
brake out again presently, as cruel as ever. However 
this was no fault of the poor Princess, who did all she 
could. Yet for all that did King Francis, her husband, 
treat her but scurvily, hating and abominating the con- 
nection, as I have been told. 


FTER the departure of the Queen of Hungary 
there was left no great Princess with King 
Philip (now Sovereign Lord invested with his 
domains in the Netherlands and elsewhere), 
but only the Duchesse de Lorraine, Christina of Den- 
mark, his cousin german, later entitled Her Highness, 
which did always hold him good company, so long as he 
tarried in these parts. She did add much to the brilliance 
of his Court, for truly no Court, whether of King, Prince, 
Emperor or Monarch, no matter how magnificent it be, 
is of much account, if it be not accompanied and seconded 
by a Queen's or Empress's Court, or at least a great 
Princess's, and thereat a good abundance of noble dames 
and damsels, as both myself have observed and have heard 
pronouncement to the same effect in the highest quarters. 
This said Princess was in mine opinion one of the most 
beauteous and most well accomplished Princesses I have 
ever seen, in face very fair and pleasing, her figure very 




tall and fine, her conversation agreeable, and above all her 
dress most excellent. In fact all her life she was the pat- 
tern and model of fashion to all the ladies of France. 
This mode of dressing head and hair and arranging the 
veil was known as the Lorraine way, and 'twas a pretty 
sight to see our Court ladies so attired. These were ever 
a-making grand fetes and splendid shows, the better 
thereat to show off their dainty adornments, all being a la 
Lorraine and copied after Her Highness. In especial she 
had one of the prettiest hands ever seen ; and I have heard 
the Queen Mother herself praise the same, and liken it to 
her own for perfection. She had an excellent seat on 
horseback, and rode with no little grace, always using the 
stirrup attached to the saddle, the mode whereof she had 
learned of the Queen Marie, her aunt, and the Queen 
Mother, so I have heard say of her; for previously she 
had ridden with help of the old-fashioned "planchette," x 
which was far from properly showing off her grace and 
her elegant seat like the stirrup. In all this she was for 
imitating the Queen her aunt, never mounting any but 
Spanish horses, Turks, Barbs and the very best jennets, 
which could go well at the amble. Of such I have seen a 
dozen capital mounts at one time in her stable, all so ex- 
cellent, 'twere impossible to say one was better than an- 
other. The said aunt did love her dearly, as well for the 
exercises they both were fond of, hunting, riding and the 
like, as for her virtues, the which she did observe in her. 
Accordingly, after her marriage, she did often go to visit 
her in Flanders, as I have heard Madame de Fontaines 
relate; and indeed after she became a widow, and espe- 
cially after her son had been taken from her, she did quit 
Lorraine altogether in despite, so proud and high of heart 




was she. She did thereafter take up her abode with the 
Emperor her uncle and the Queens her aunts, all which 
great personages did receive her with no small pleasure. 
She did bear exceeding hardly the loss and absence of 
her son, and this in spite of all possible excuses which 
King Henri did make her, and his declared intention of 
adopting him as his son. But presently, finding no as- 
suagement, and seeing how they were giving him one M. 
de La Brousse as tutor, instead of the one he now had, 
namely M. de Montbardon, a very wise and honourable 
gentleman the Emperor himself had assigned to that of- 
fice, having long known him for a worthy man, for he 
had been in the service of M. de Bourbon, and was a 
French refugee, the Princess, thinking all desperate, did 
seek out King Henri one Holy Thursday in the great Gal- 
lery at Nancy, where all his Court was assembled. Thus, 
with an assured grace and that great beauty which did 
make her yet more admirable, she did advance, with no 
undue awe or any sort of abasement at his grandeur, al- 
beit bowing low in reverence before him ; and in suppliant 
wise, with tears in her eyes, the which did but make her 
more fair and more delightsome to look upon, did remon- 
strate with the King as to the wrong he was doing her in 
taking away her son, the dearest possession she had in 
all the world. Little did she deserve, she added, so harsh 
treatment, seeing the high station she was born in and 
the fact she had never dreamed of doing aught to his 
disservice. All this she said so well and with so excellent 
a grace, with reasoning so cogent and complaint so piti- 
ful, as that the King, always very courteous toward ladies, 
was deeply stirred with compassion, and not he alone, 





but all the Lords and Princes, great and small, which were 
present at the sight. 

The King, who was the most respectful monarch to- 
ward ladies hath ever been in France, did answer her in 
very honourable terms, albeit with no rigmarole of words 
nor by way of set harangue, as Paradin doth represent 
the matter in his History of France; for indeed of his 
nature this monarch was not so prolix, nor copious in 
reasons and fine speeches, nor a mighty orator. Neither 
had he any need to be, nor is it becoming that a King 
should play the philosopher and rhetorician, the shortest 
replies and briefest questions being more meet for him and 
more becoming. This I have heard argued by not a few 
great men, amongst others by M. de Pibrac, whose judg- 
ment was much to be relied on by reason of the com- 
petence of knowledge he did possess. Moreover any one 
that shall read the speech as given by Paradin, as sup- 
posed by him to have been delivered in this place by King 
Henri, will credit never a word of it; besides which, I 
have heard positively from a number of great folk which 
were there present that he did not make any such lengthy 
harangue as the historian saith. 

'Tis quite true at the same time that he did condole 
with her in very honourable and proper phrase on her 
alleged grievance, saying she had no real reason to be 
troubled thereat, for that 'twas to assure the lad's estate, 
and not out of any selfish hostility toward him, he was 
fain to have her son by his side, and to keep him along 
with his own son and heir, to share his bringing up and 
fashion of life and fortune. Further that himself being 
French, and the boy of French extraction, he could scarce 
be better off than to be reared at the French Court and 




among French folk, where he had so many kinsmen and 
friends. In especial he forgat not to add how the house 
of Lorraine did lie under greater obligation to that of 
France than to any other in all Christendom, alleging the 
countenance given by France to the Duke of Lorraine as 
against Duke Charles of Burgundy, that was slain before 
Nancy. For that 'twas an undoubted truth to say that 
but for that Country's help, the said Duke would have 
utterly undone the Duke of Lorraine and his Duchy to 
boot, and made him the most unhappy Prince in the world. 
He did further allege the gratitude they of the House of 
Lorraine did owe to the French, for the great assistance 
rendered them by the latter in their successes in the Holy 
Wars and conquests of Jerusalem, and the Kingdom of 
Naples and Sicily. Further he did declare how neither his 
natural bent nor true interests were like to set him on 
ruining and undoing Princes, but rather to help the same 
in all ways, when in danger and difficulty, as he had 
actually done to the little Queen of Scots, a near kins- 
woman of his son, to the Duke of Parma, as well as to 
Germany, that was so sore pressed it was nigh coming to 
utter ruin without such help. The same kindness and 
generosity, he said, was his motive for taking the young 
Prince of Lorraine under his protection, for to bring him 
up to an higher estate than else he could aspire to, and 
make him his son by marrying him eventually to one of 
his own daughters ; in fine that she had no sort of call to 
be afflicted at his action. 

Yet could not all these fine words and excellent reasons 
in any wise calm her grief, neither enable her to bear her 
loss one whit more patiently. So presently with another 
deep reverence, and still shedding many pathetic tears, 





she did withdraw her to her own chamber, the King him- 
self conducting her to the door thereof. Next day, before 
quitting the place, he did visit her in her chamber to bid 
her farewell, but without her winning any concession as to 
her petition. Accordingly having thus seen her beloved 
son torn from her and carried away to France, she did 
resolve for her part to leave Lorraine altogether and 
retire to Flanders to the side of her uncle the Emperor 
(oh! the fine sound of that word) and to the company 
of her cousin King Philip and the Queens her aunts a 
noble alliance and a great! This she did; and did never 
leave Flanders more, till after conclusion of the peace 
betwixt the two Kings, when he of Spain took ship and 
sailed away for that country. 

To the making of the said peace she did no little avail, 
my! rather was the chief est contributor thereto. For 
the delegates of the one side and the other, by what I 
have heard said, after having laboured and sweated all 
in vain at Cercan for several days, without arranging or 
settling aught, were still at fault and off the scent, as we 
say in hunting, when she, whether inspired by wisdom 
from on high or urged thereto by Christian zeal and her 
own kind heart, did take up the chase, and carry this im- 
portant negotiation to a good end and one so fortunate 
to all Christian peoples. And of a truth 'twas said no 
other could have been found so meet to move and set in 
place this great corner stone, seeing she was a lady of 
skill and experience if ever there was one, as well as of 
high and weighty authority, and there can be never a 
doubt but petty, low-born folk are not so apt for the 
like business as great personages be. For this and many 
other reasons the King her cousin did feel much trust and 




confidence in her, well knowing her good qualities. He 
did ever love her well, bearing her much affection and es- 
teem; and indeed she did help him much and contribute 
greatly to the splendour and renown of his Court, the 
which without her would have sorely lacked brilliancy. 
Yet afterward, I have been told, he did show her but poor 
gratitude and treated her scurvily with regard to her 
lands which did fall to her for jointure in the Duchy of 
Milan, where she had been married in first wedlock with 
the Duke Sforza; for by what I have been informed, he 
did rob her and bring her short of some portion of these. 

I have heard it said that after the loss of her son, she 
did remain very ill content with the Due de Guise and the 
great Cardinal her brother, holding them to blame for 
having advised the King to that course, by reason of their 
ambition, both because they were fain to see their near 
cousin adopted as son and married within the House of 
France, and because she had some while before refused 
M. de Guise in marriage, which had sent to her to make 
such offer. She being one of the proudest of womankind, 
made answer she would never wed the younger son of the 
house whereof she had been wife of the eldest. For this 
rebuff the Duke did ever after bear her a grudge, and 
this although he did lose naught in his subsequent mar- 
riage, his wife being of a most illustrious house and grand- 
daughter of a King, Louis XII., one of the best and 
bravest monarchs have ever sat on the French throne, 
and what is more, being one of the most beautiful women 
in Christendom. 

Hereanent I have heard tell how the first time these two 
beauteous Princesses met, both were so curious to mark 
one the other, whether directing their gaze straight in 




the face, or askance or sideways, as that neither could 
look long enough, so set were they and eager to examine 
each other's charms. I leave you to fancy all the divers 
thoughts must have traversed these fair ladies' minds. 
Just so we do read how a little before the great battle 
was fought in Africa betwixt Scipio and Hannibal, which 
did put a final end to the War of Rome and Carthage, 
how previous to its beginning, they did come together in a 
short truce of some two hours' duration. Whenas they 
were approached near each other, there the twain of 
them stood some little while wrapped in contemplation 
one of the other, each thinking of the valour of the other, 
so renowned by their exploits and so well represented in 
their gallant visages, their persons, and their fine, warlike 
ways and bearing. Then after so tarrying entranced in 
these noble dreams the one of the other, they did pres- 
ently set them to negotiation after the fashion Livy hath 
so well described. Thus valour doth make itself esteemed 
in the midst of enmity and hate, as doth beauty in the 
midst of mutual jealousy, as proven ir* *fae case of the 
two fair Princesses I have spoke of. 

Truly the beauty and charming grace of these twain 
might well be pronounced equal, only that Madame de 
Guise mayhap did in some ways bear the bell. But she was 
well content to surpass her rival in these qualities only, 
never a whit in pride and high bearing; for indeed she 
was the most gentle, good, condescending and affable 
Princess ever known, albeit she could show herself at need 
high-spirited and gallant. Nature had framed her so, 
no less by reason of her tall and noble figure than of her 
dignified port and stately carriage, so that to look at 
her a man might well fear and think twice about address- 





ing her in speech, yet having plucked up courage so to 
accost her, naught would he find in her but all sweetness, 
candour and good-nature, these pleasant qualities being 
inherited from her grandfather, the good father of his 
people, and the kindly French habit. Tis true enough 
however she knew very well how to keep her dignity and 
show her pride, when need was. I do hope to further 
speak of her specially in another place. 

Her Highness of Lorraine on the contrary was exceed- 
ing proud and somewhat overweening. This myself did 
note on sundry occasions in her bearing toward the Queen 
of Scots, who after she was a widow, did make a journey 
to Lorraine, where I then was. Not seldom you would 
have thought the aforesaid proud Princess was eager to 
take advantage and encroach somewhat upon the unhappy 
Queen's majesty. Yet the latter, who was a woman of 
the world and of a high spirit, did never give her occasion 
to glory over her or in any wise encroach on her dignity, 
albeit her bearing was always gentleness itself. Indeed the 
Cardinal her brother had duly warned her and given her 
an inkling of the haughty humour of the said Princess. 

Never could this latter entirely rid her of her pride, 
yet was she fain to modify the same somewhat toward the 
Queen Mother (Catherine de Medici), when they met. 
Verily 'twas pride against pride; for the Queen Mother 
was the very proudest woman in all the world, when need 
was, as I have myself seen, and heard the same character 
given her of many great personages, and above all if 
it were necessary to lower the pride of some presumptuous 
person, for she would ever contrive to abase such to the 
very bowels of the earth. Yet did she always bear herself 
courteously toward her Highness, treating her with suf- 




ficient deference and respect, yet ever keeping a tight 
rein, hand high or hand low as occasion did demand, for 
fear she should mayhap forget herself and presume on 
some liberty ; and myself did hear her twice or thrice de- 
clare, "Yonder is the proudest woman I ever saw !" This 
was at the time she came to the coronation of our late 
King Charles IX. at Reims, whither she was invited. On 
her entry into that city, she would not ride a-horseback, 
fearing thereby to derogate something of her dignity and 
rank, but did arrive in a coach magnificently furnished, 
all covered with black velvet, by reason of her widowhood, 
and drawn by four white barbs, the finest could anywhere 
be chosen, harnessed four abreast, as it had been a tri- 
umphal chariot. Herself was at the carriage door, 
splendidly attired, though all in black, in a velvet robe, 
but her head dress all of white, magnificently arranged 
and set off. At the other door was one of her daughters, 
which was after Duchess of Bavaria; and within, her 
maid of honour, the Princess of Macedonia. The Queen 
Mother, desiring to see her enter the outer court in this 
triumphant guise, did set her at a window, exclaiming in 
an undertone, "Oh ! the haughty dame it is !" Presently 
when she had stepped down from her carriage and 
mounted to the great hall above, the Queen did go for- 
ward to meet her only so far as the midmost of the hall, 
or mayhap a little farther and somewhat nearer the en- 
trance door than the upper end. Yet did she receive her 
very graciously, and showed her great honour ; for at the 
time she was ruler in all things, in view of the youth of 
the King her son, and did govern him and make him 
entirely conform to her good pleasure. All the Court, 
great and small alike, did esteem and much admire the 




said Princess, and much appreciate her beauty, albeit she 
was coming nigh the decline of her years, which might 
then be something over forty; yet was no sign of change 
or decay in her, her Autumn altogether surpassing other 
women's Summer. None can do other than think highly 
of this fair Princess, seeing how beautiful she was, and 
yet did safeguard her widowhood to the tomb, and so in- 
violably and chastely, indulging in no third marriage, 
keep her faith to the manes of her husband. 

She did die within a year after hearing the news of her 
being Queen of Denmark, whence she did spring, and the 
Kingdom of which had fallen to her. In this wise before 
her death she did see her title of Highness, the which she 
had borne so long, changed to that of Majesty, which yet 
was hers but a short while, less than six months in all. I 
ween she would gladly enough have borne the old title 
still, an if she could have kept therewith her erstwhile 
bloom of youth and beauty, for truly all empires and 
kingdoms be as nothing compared with youth. Natheless 
was it an honour and consolation to her before her death 
to bear this name of Queen; but for all this, by what I 
have heard say, she was firm resolved not to go to her 
kingdom, but to finish out the rest of her days on her 
jointure lands in Italy, at Tortona. And the folk of 
that country did call her naught else but the Lady of 
Tortona not a very grand title and quite unworthy of 
her. Thither she had retired a good while before her 
decease, as well for sake of certain vows she had sworn to 
perform at the holy places of that region, as to be nearer 
the baths of those parts ; for she had fallen into bad health 
and grown exceeding gouty. 

Her life was spent in very pious, holy and honourable 




exercises, praying God and giving much alms and char- 
ity toward the poor, and above all toward widows, among 
whom she did not forget the unfortunate Madame Castel- 
lane of Milan, the which we have seen at Court dragging 
out a miserable existence, had it not been for the help of 
the Queen Mother, which did always provide her somewhat 
to live on. She was daughter of the Princess of Mace- 
donia, being a scion of that great house. Myself have 
seen her a venerable and aged dame; and she had been 
governess to her Highness. The latter, learning the ex- 
treme poverty wherein the poor lady did live, sent to seek 
her out, and had her brought to her side and did treat her 
so well she never more felt the sore distress she had en- 
dured in France. 

Such is the summary account I have been able to give 
of ths great and noble Princess, and how, a widow and a 
very beautiful woman, she lived a most wise and prudent 
life. True, it may be said she was married previously to 
the Duke Sforza. Well and good! but he did die imme- 
diately after, and they were married less than a year, and 
she was made a widow at fifteen or sixteen. Whereupon 
her uncle the Emperor did wed her to the Duke of Lor- 
raine, the better to strengthen himself in his divers alli- 
ances. But once again she was widowed in the flower of 
her age, having enjoyed her fine marriage but a very few 
years. The days which were left her, the best of her life 
and those most highly to be valued and most delightfully 
to be enjoyed, these she did deliberately spend in a retired 
and chaste widowhood. 

Well! seeing I am on the subject, I must e'en speak of 
some other fair widows in briefest phrase, and first of 
one of former days, that noble widow, Blanche de Mont- 





f errat, one of the great and ancient houses of Italy, which 
was Duchess of Savoy and the most beauteous and most 
perfect Princess of her time, and one of the most prudent 
and well advised. So well and wisely did she govern her 
son's minority and his lands, that never was seen so pru- 
dent a dame and so excellent a mother, left a widow as 
she was at three and twenty. 

She it was which did receive so honourably the young 
King Charles VIII., on his way to his Kingdom of Naples, 
in all her lands, and above all in her good town of Turin, 
where she did afford him a very stately entry. Herself 
was pleased to be present, and did walk in the progress 
very sumptuously attired, showing she well understood 
her dignity as a great lady; for she was in imposing ar- 
ray, clad in a long robe of cloth of gold fretted, and all 
bordered with great diamonds, rubies, sapphires, em- 
eralds, and other rich jewels. Her head likewise was en- 
circled with the like precious stones, while at her neck she 
wore a necklace or collar of huge Oriental pearls of price- 
less worth, and on her arms bracelets of the same. She 
was mounted on a fine white hackney, very magnificently 
caparisoned and led by six tall lackeys, dressed in fig- 
ured cloth of gold. Following her came a large company 
of damsels, very richly, neatly and charmingly dressed 
in the Piedmontese fashion, that 'twas a pleasure to see 
them, and after these a very strong body of gentlemen 
and knights of the country. Then after her train did 
enter and march into the city King Charles himself under 
a rich canopy of state, lighting down at length at the 
Castle, where he was lodged. There at the Gate, before 
entering in, the Duchess of Savoy did present her son to 
him, which was yet a mere boy ; after which she did make 





him a very excellent speech of welcome, putting at his 
service all her lands and goods, both her own and those 
of her son. This courtesy the King did accept with grati- 
tude, thanking her heartily and expressing great obliga- 
tion to her. Through all the city were to be seen the 
scutcheons of France and of Savoy, bound together with 
a true lovers' knot, uniting the two scutcheons and the 
two blazons, with these words, Sanguinis arctus amor 
(Close the tie of blood), as described in the Chronicle of 

I have heard sundry of our fathers and mothers, which 
had it of their own parents as eye-witnesses, and in espe- 
cial of the noble lady, the Seneschale de Poitou, my grand- 
mother, who was then a maid of honour at the Court, de- 
clare how in those days naught else was talked of but the 
beauty, wisdom and prudence of this same Princess, and 
how all the Courtiers and gallants of the King's suite, 
when they were returned back to France from their jour- 
ney thither, were forever discoursing of her and enter- 
taining the dames and damsels of the Court with praises 
of her beauty and virtue, and the King more than any, 
which did show every sign of being smit to the heart with 
love for so beautiful a lady. 

Yet apart from her beauty altogether, he had much 
occasion to love her well; for she did help him by every 
means she could, and did even strip her of all her precious 
stones, pearls and jewelry, to lend them him to raise 
money on in whatsoever way seemed good to him. This 
was indeed a great obligation and sacrifice, seeing what 
great attachment women do always have for their precious 
stones, rings and jewelry, so as they would almost rather 
lend and put in pawn some precious part of their own 




body than their wealth of such things ; I mean some 
would, though not of course all. At any rate the kind- 
ness done was a very great one; for but for this gener- 
osity, and likewise that of the Marquise de Montferrat, 
another very noble and very fair lady, he would have 
come to downright shame in no long time, and must have 
returned from his expedition before it was half done, 
having undertaken the same without money. Herein he 
was in the like sorry case with a certain French Bishop 
that went to the Council of Trent without money and 
without Latin. Verily a putting to sea without biscuit! 
Yet is there a difference Hwixt the two ; for what the one 
did was of his fine, high spirit and noble ambition, the 
which did close his eyes to all inconveniences, finding 
naught impossible to a brave heart, whereas the other 
was in lack both of mother wit and proper experience, 
offending out of sheer ignorance and stupidity, unless in- 
deed it were that he hoped to send round the bag when 
he got to his destination. 

In the description given of this magnificent entry I 
have spoke of just above, is to be noted the splendour of 
the attire and adornments of this same Princess, which 
were more in accord (some will say) with what is becom- 
ing a wife than a widow. On this the ladies did say at 
the time that, to welcome so great a King, she might well 
be excused so far, albeit he did hardly claim so great 
expenditure; and further that great folk, men and wom- 
en, be a law to themselves, and that in those days widows, 
so they said, were not so straightlaced and exact in their 
dress as they have been for the last forty years. The 
fact is a certain great lady I wot of, being in high favour 
with a King, indeed his mistress, did dress her somewhat 





in more quiet and modest garb than most, yet always in 
silk, to the end she might the better conceal and hide 
her game ; wherefore the widows then at Court, being fain 
to imitate her, did adopt the same fashion. Natheless 
was she by no means so strict with herself, nor so stern 
in her moderation, but that she dressed both prettily and 
richly, only all in black and white, displaying more world- 
liness therein than did exactly accord with strict widow's 
weeds, and in especial ever making a point of showing her 
beautiful bosom. 

Myself did hear the Queen, mother of King Henri III., 
on occasion of the coronation and marriage of that mon- 
arch, say the same : how that widows in days gone by had 
not the same carefulness as to their attire, modest bear- 
ing and strict life, as nowadays. She had seen this in the 
time of King Francis, who did love an easy-going Court 
in all respects. Widows did even dance thereat, and were 
taken as partners as readily as maids or wives. In fact 
she did once command and beg M. de Vaudemont, by way 
of honouring the occasion, to lead out the Dowager Prin- 
cess of Conde to the dance. This he did, and danced a 
full round with her, as they which were present for the 
coronation, as I was myself, did see and well remember. 
Such the freedom widows did then enjoy. Nowadays all 
this is forbid them as if 'twere a sacrilege, as also the 
wearing of colours, for none now dare wear aught but 
black and white ; though as for underskirts and petticoats, 
these as well as their stockings, may be grey, drab, violet 
or blue. Some indeed I have seen which have sp far in- 
dulged them as to adopt red, scarlet and chamois-yellow, 
as in former days; for they could then wear any colour 




for bodices and stockings, though not for robes, by what 
I am told. 

Moreover this same Duchess we have been speaking of 
might well enough wear such a robe of cloth of gold, see- 
ing 'twas her proper ducal habit and state costume, and 
therefore becoming and lawful, for to display the sov- 
ranty and high dignity of her exalted rank. And this 
is even now done by our Countesses and Duchesses, the 
which can and do wear the robes belonging to their sev- 
eral orders on state occasions. Only our widows of to- 
day dare under no circumstances wear jewelry, except 
only in rings, and on mirrors and Books of Hours and the 
like, and set in handsome belts, but not on neck or arms, 
or even any great display of pearls in necklaces and 
bracelets. Yet I do declare solemnly I have seen widows 
as becomingly attired in their white and black, and every 
whit as attractively, as some of our tawdrily dressed wives 
and maids. 


OWEVER enough said concerning this foreign 
Princess. 'Tis time to say somewhat of our 
French Princesses, and I would wish first to 
deal with our fair and unsullied Queen, Louise 
de Lorraine, wife of King Henri III., late deceased. This 
Princess can and ought to be commended on many 
grounds. In her marriage she did bear her towards the 
King her husband so wisely, modestly and loyally, as that 
the knot wherewith she was bound in wedlock with him 
did always remain so firm and indissoluble, no breaking 
or slackness of the same was ever found, and this although 



the King did sometimes wander elsewhither to satisfy his 
passions, as great folks will, the which have a special 
freedom accorded them. Beside this, quite at the very 
beginning of their married life, in fact within ten days 
of their union, he did give her no slight cause for dis- 
pleasure, for that he did deprive her of her women of the 
chamber and maids of honour, which had ever been with 
her and in her service, when still a girl, whereat she was 
exceeding sorry. 'Twas a heavy blow to her affection, in 
especial for Mile, de Changy, a very fair and most honour- 
able damsel, and one little deserving to be banished the 
company of her mistress and expelled the Court. Indeed 
'tis ever a sore despite to lose a trusty companion and 
confidante. I have heard how one day a lady, one of her 
most privy friends, was presuming enough to chide her 
and urge, by way of jest and half-serious flaunt, that, 
seeing she could never have children by the King, for 
many reasons then commonly alleged, she would do well 
to borrow secret aid of some third person, for to have 
offspring, to the end she might not be left without author- 
ity, supposing her husband did chance to die, but might 
some day very like be Queen Mother of a King of France, 
and hold the same rank and high estate as the Queen 
mother-in-law. But the lady did long regret her coun- 
sel, semi-burlesque as it was ; for the Queen took the same 
exceeding ill, and did never after like her worthy adviser, 
preferring to base her dignity on her chastity and vir- 
tuous life rather than on a lineage sprung of evil-doing. 
Still the advice, in a worldly point of view and accord- 
ing to Macchiavelli's doctrine, was not to be despised. 

Very different was the behaviour, so 'tis said, of Queen 
Mary of England, third wife of King Louis XII. Being 





but ill-content and distrustful of the feebleness of the 
King her husband, she was fain to sound these waters for 
herself, taking for guide in crossing the ford the noble 
Comte d'Angouleme, the same which was afterward King 
Francis, then a young, handsome and charming Prince, 
to whom she did show much favour, always addressing 
him as "My excellent son-in-law;" as indeed he was, hav- 
ing already married Madame Claude, daughter of King 
Louis. The fact is she was smit with love for him; and 
he on seeing her was in much the same case. The end 
was the pair were very nigh coming together, the which 
they would surely have done but for the late M. de Grig- 
naux, a nobleman of honour and good birth from Peri- 
gord, a prudent and well advised man, who had been 
gentleman in waiting to the Queen Anne, as we have above 
said, and was so still to Queen Mary. He seeing the play 
was very like to come off, did chide the aforesaid Comte 
d'Angouleme for the fault he was about to commit, saying 
with an angry energy: "Nay! by the Risen God (this 
was his favourite oath), what would you be at? See you 
not this woman, keen and cunning as she is, is fain to draw 
you to her, to the end you may get her with child? But 
an if she come to have a son, what of you? You are still 
plain Comte d'Angouleme, and never King of France, as 
you do hope to be. The King her husband is old, and 
cannot now make her children. You must needs meddle 
and go with her, you with your young hot blood, and she 
the same, and by the Risen Lord ! the end will be she will 
just catch on like a limed bird, conceive you a child, and 
there you are! After that you've only to say, 'Good- 
bye ! my chance of the fair Kingdom of France !' Where- 
fore I say, reflect." 




In fact the said Queen was for practising and proving 
true the Spanish saw or proverb, which saith, munca mu- 
ger aguda murio sin herederos, "no clever woman ever 
died without heirs;" or in other words, an if her hus- 
band make her none, she will call in other help to get her 
end. Now M. d'Angouleme did reflect and sware he was 
going to be wise and refrain ; yet tried and tempted again 
and again with the wiles and advances of the fair Eng- 
lishwoman, did presently throw him more fiercely than 
ever into the pursuit of her. Such the effects of love and 
passion ! such the power of a mere bit of flesh and blood, 
that for its sake men will surrender kingdoms and empires, 
and altogether lose the same, as we find over and over 
again in History. Eventually M. de Grignaux, seeing the 
young man was bent on his own undoing and the carrying 
further of his amour, told Madame d'Angouleme, his 
mother, of the matter, which did so reprove and smartly 
chide him, as that he gave up the sport once and for all. 

None the less 'tis said the Queen did all she could to 
live and reign as Queen Mother for some little while before 
and after the death of the King her husband. However 
she lost him too soon, and had no sufficient time to carry 
through her purpose. Yet even so, she did spread the 
report, after the King's death, that she was pregnant. 
Accordingly, albeit naught really inside her belly, 'tis said 
she would swell out the outside thereof by means of linen 
wrappages gradually more and more every day, and that 
when her full time was come, she did propose to have 
ready a supposititious child of another woman, and pro- 
duce this at the instant of her pretended delivery. But 
the Queen Regent, which was from Savoy and knew some- 
what about child-bearing and the like, seeing things were 




going somewhat too fast for her and her son, had her so 
well watched and examined of physicians and midwives, 
that her wrappages and clouts being noted, she was found 
out and baulked in her design, and instead of being Queen 
Mother was incontinently sent back to her own country. 

See the difference betwixt this Princess Mary and our 
good Queen Louise, which was so wise, chaste and vir- 
tuous, she did never desire, whether by true or false pre- 
tence, to be Queen Mother. But an if she had wished to 
play the like game as other, there would have been little 
difficulty, for there was none to watch her with any care, 
and 'twould have sore surprised not a few. And for 
her behaviour our present King doth owe her much 
thanks, and should love and honour her greatly; for an 
if she had played this game, and had brought forward an 
infant, her own or another's, the King instead of being 
what he is, would have been but a Regent of France, may- 
hap not even that. And this feeble title would ill have 
guarded him from many more wars and troubles than he 
hath actually had. 

I have heard some, both men of religion and of the 
world, hold and maintain this opinion: that our Queen 
would have done better to have played this part, and that 
in that case France would never have endured so much 
wretchedness, poverty and ruin as she hath now, and is 
like to have, and the True Faith better supported into 
the bargain. As to this I can but refer me to those gal- 
lant and curious questioners which do debate these points 
(but myself do believe never a word of it, for we be all 
right well satisfied with our King, God save him!) for 
them to pronounce judgment thereon; for they have a 
fine subject, and one admitting wide discussion as to the 



^mn^A': i : -r-^ 

State's best interests, though not as to God's, as seemeth 
me. To Him our Queen hath always been deeply devoted, 
loving and adoring Him so well, that to serve Him, she 
would e'en forget herself and her high estate. For being 
a very beauteous Princess (the King indeed did choose her 
for her beauty and high virtues), and young, tender and 
most charming, she did give up herself to naught else but 
only to serve God, do her devotions, visit constantly the 
hospitals, heal the sick and bury the dead, forgetting nor 
omitting any of the good and holy works which in this 
province the holy devout and righteous ladies, Princesses 
and Queens of days of yore, did practise in the early 
Church. After the death of her husband, she did ever 
lead the same life, spending her time in weeping and 
mourning for him, beseeching God for his soul; and in 
fact her life as a widow was of the same holy character 
as her married life had been. 

"Tis true she was supposed, during her husband's life- 
time, to have leaned somewhat to the side of the party of 
the Union, because, being so good a Christian and Cath- 
olic as she was, she did naturally prefer them which were 
fighting and contending for her Faith and Religion; yet 
did she never more favour them, but quitted their faction 
altogether, after their assassination of her husband, 
though claiming no other vengeance of punishment as a 
right but what it should please God to inflict, not that 
she did not duly petition men, and above all our King, 
with whom lieth the performing of justice for this mon- 
strous deed of a man of religion. 1 Thus both an married 
life and widowhood, did this excellent Princess live blame- 
less. Eventually she died in the enjoyment of a most 
noble and worthy repute, having long languished in sick- 



ness and grown hectic and parched, 'twas said owing to 
her overmuch indulgence in sorrow. She made a very ex- 
cellent and pious end. Just before her death, she had her 
crown placed at the head of her bed close beside her, and 
would never have it removed from there so long as she 
yet lived, directing that after her death she should be 
crowned and so remain till her body was laid beneath the 

She did leave behind her a sister, Madame de Joyeuse, 
which was her counterpart in her chaste and modest life, 
and did make great mourning and lamentation for her 
husband; and verily he was a brave, valiant and well ac- 
complished Lord. Beside, I have heard say, how when 
our present King was in such straits, and shut up and 
imprisoned as in a bag in Dieppe, which the Due du 
Maine held invested with forty thousand men, that an if 
she had been in the place of the Commander of the town 
De Chastes, she would have had revenge of the death of 
her husband in a very different fashion from the said 
worthy Commander, who for the obligations he lay under 
to M. de Joyeuse, ought never to have surrendered, in her 
opinion. Nor did she ever like the man afterward, but 
did hate him worse than the plague, being unable to ex- 
cuse a fault as he had committed, albeit others deem him 
to have kept faith and loyalty according to his promises. 
But then an angry woman, be the original cause of offence 
just or unjust, will take no satisfaction; and this was the 
way with this Princess, who could never bring herself to 
like our reigning monarch, though she did sore regret the 
late King and wore mourning for him, and this although 
she did belong to the League; for she always declared both 
her husband and she did lie under many obligations to 




him. In fine, she is a good and a wise Princess, and one 
that is honoured by the grief and respect she did show to 
the ashes of her husband, for some while that is, for 
eventually she did marry again with M. de Luxembourg. 
So young as she was, was she to consume away in vain 
regrets forever? 


HE Duchesse de Guise, Catherine of Cleves, 
one of the three daughters of the house of 
Never s (all three Princesses that can surely 
never be enough commended, no less for their 
beauty than for their virtue and on whom I have writ a 
separate chapter in another place), hath celebrated and 
doth celebrate all her days in right worthy fashion the 
irreparable loss of her noble husband; but indeed what a 
husband was he ! He was truly the nonpareil of the world, 
and this and no less she did call him in sundry of her let- 
ters, the which she writ to some of her most familiar 
friends and lady companions, which myself also did see 
after her bereavement, showing them plainly therein by 
the sad and mournful words she used with what sore re- 
grets her soul was wounded. 

Her noble sister-in-law, Madame de Montpensier, of 
whom I d~ hope to speak further elsewhere, did also be- 
wail her husband bitterly. Albeit she did lose him when 
still very young, and beautiful and charming for many 
perfections both of mind and body, she did never think 
of marrying again, and this although she had wedded 
him when a mere child in years, and he might have been 
her grandfather, so that she had tasted but sparely with 




him of the fruits of wedlock. Yet would she never consent 
to indulge a second taste of the same and make up her 
defect and arrears in that kind by another marriage. 

I have heard not a few noblemen, gentlemen and great 
ladies oftentimes express their wonder that the Princesse 
de Conde, the Dowager Princess I mean, of the house of 
Longueville, did always refuse to marry again, seeing 
how she was one of the most beautiful ladies in all France, 
and one of the most desirable. But she did remain satis- 
fied with her condition of widowhood, and would never take 
a second husband, and this though left a widow very 

The Marquise de Rothelin, her mother, did the like, who 
beautiful woman as she was, died a widow. Verily mother 
and daughter both might well have set afire a whole king- 
dom with their lovely eyes and sweet looks, the which were 
renowned at Court and through France for the most 
charming and alluring ever seen. And doubtless they did 
fire many hearts ; yet never a word was ever to be spoke 
of love or marriage, both having loyally kept the faith 
once pledged to their dead husbands, and never married 

I should never have done if I were to name all the Prin- 
cesses of our Kings' Courts in similar case. I must e'en 
defer their panegyric to another place. So I will leave 
them now, and say somewhat of sundry other ladies, 
which though no Princesses, be yet of as illustrious race 
and generous heart as they. 

Fulvia Mirandola, Madame de Randan, of the noble 
house of Admirande, did remain unwed, though left a 
widow in the flower of her age and her exquisite beauty. 
So great mourning did she make over her loss, that never 





more would she deign to look at herself in her mirror, but 
refused the sight of her lovely face to the pellucid crystal 
that was so fain to see the same. Her act though not her 
words were like those of an ancient dame, which breaking 
her mirror and dedicating the fragments to Venus, spake 
these words to the Goddess: 

Dico tibi Veneri speculum, quai cernere talem 
Qualis sum nolo, qualis eram nequeo. 

(To thee, Venus, I do dedicate my mirror, for such as I am 
now, I care not to see myself, and such as I was, I cannot 

Not that Madame de Randam did scorn her mirror for 
this reason, for indeed she was very beautiful, but by 
reason of a vow she had made to her husband's shade, who 
was one of the best and noblest gentlemen of all France. 
For his sake she did altogether leave the world and its 
vanities, dressing her always very soberly. She wore a 
veil habitually, never showing her hair ; yet spite of care- 
less head-dress and her neglect of appearances, her great 
beauty was none the less manifest. The late M. de Guise, 
late deceased, was used always to call her naught but the 
nun; for she was attired and put on like a religious. This 
he would say by way of jest and merriment with her; for 
he did admire and honour her greatly, seeing how well 
affectioned and attached she was to his service and all his 

Madame de Carnavalet, twice a widow, did refuse to wed 
for the third time with M. d'Espernon, then known as M. 
de la Valette the younger, and at the commencement of his 




high favour at Court. So deep was he in love with her, 
that unable to get of her what he would so fain have had, 
for truly she was a very lovely widow and very charming, 
he did follow her up persistently and press her sore to 
marry him, inducing the King three or four times over to 
speak to her in his favour. Yet would she never put her- 
self again under a husband's yoke. She had been married 
twice, her first husband being the Comte de Montravel, 
the second M. de Carnavalet. And when her most privy 
friends, myself first and foremost, who was much her ad- 
mirer, did chide her for her fault she was committing in 
refusing so high a match, one that would place her in 
the very midmost and focus of greatness, wealth, riches, 
favour and every dignity, seeing how M. de la Valette was 
chiefest favourite of the King, and deemed of him only 
second to himself, she would answer : that her delight lay 
not at all in these things, but in her own free-will and the 
perfect liberty and satisfaction. 

Madame de Bourdeille, sprung of the illustrious and 
ancient house of Montbron and of the Counts of Perigord 
and Viscounts of Aunay, being left a widow at the age of 
seven or eight and thirty, a very beautiful woman (and I 
do think that in all Guienne, of which province she was, 
was never another that in her day did surpass her in 
beauty, charm and good looks, for indeed she had one of 
the finest, tallest and most gracious figures could any- 
where be seen, and if the body was fair the mind was to 
match), being so desirable and now widowed, was wooed 
and sought after in marriage by three great and wealthy 
Lords. To them all she made reply as follows: "I will 
not say, as many dames do, that they will never, never 
marry again, adding such asseverations you can in no 



wise doubt their firm intention. But I am ready to de- 
clare that, unless God and my carnal being give me not 
very different desire to what I feel at this present, and 
change me utterly, I have very surely said farewell for- 
ever to matrimony." Then when another did further ob- 
ject: "Nay! Madam, but would you wish to burn away 
in the flower of your age?" she added: "I wot not what 
you mean by burning away ; but I do assure you that up 
to the present hour, it hath never yet been possible for 
me to tfarm me even, all alone in my bed which is widowed 
and cold as ice. Yet in the company of a second hus- 
band, I say not but that, coming nigh his fire, I might 
not mayhap burn as you say. But forasmuch as cold is 
more easy to endure than heat, I am resolved to continue 
in my present condition, and abstain from a second mar- 
riage." And this resolve she did so express, she hath 
kept to this day, having remained a widow twelve years, 
without losing aught of her beauty, ever maintaining and 
holding sacred one fixed determination. This is truly a 
great obligation to her husband's ashes, and a testimony 
how well she loved him, as well as an exceeding binding 
claim on her children to honour her memory forever, see- 
ing how she did end her days a widow. 

The late M. d'Estrozze was one of the aspirants to her 
hand, and had had his wishes conveyed to her. But great, 
noble and allied with the Queen Mother as he was, she did 
refuse the match, excusing herself in seemly terms. Yet 
what a strange humour, after all, to be beautiful, honour- 
able and a very rich heiress, and finish out one's days over 
a pen or a solitary seam, lone and cold as ice, and spend 
so many widowed nights ! Oh ! how many dames there be 
of a very different complexion, though not a few also 





of the like! But an if I were for citing all these, I 
should never have ended; and especially if I should in- 
clude among our Christian ladies those of pagan times. 
Of these was that right fair, and good and gentle Roman 
lady of yore, Martia, second daughter of Cato of Utica, 
sister to Portia, who after losing her husband incessantly 
bewailing the said loss, being asked when would be the last 
day of her mourning, did make answer 'twould be only 
when the last day of her life should come. Moreover be- 
ing both very beautiful and very rich, she was more than 
once asked when she would marry again, to which she re- 
plied : " 'Twill be when I can find a man that will marry 
me rather for my merits than for my wealth." And God 
knoweth she was both rich and beautiful, and no less vir- 
tuous, than either, nay! far more so; else had she not 
been Gate's daughter nor Portia's sister. Yet did she 
pass this rebuff on her lovers and suitors, and would 
have it they did seek her for her wealth and not for her 
merits and virtues, albeit she was as well furnished with 
these as any. Thus did she readily rid her of these im- 
portunate gallants. 

Saint Jerome in a letter he wrote to one Principia, a 
virgin, doth celebrate the praises of a gentle Roman lady 
of his time, which was named Marcella, of a good and 
noble house, and sprung from a countless line of consuls, 
pro-consuls, Praetors, and one that had been left a 
widow very young. She was much sought after, both for 
her youth and for the antiquity of her house, as well as 
for her lovely figure, the which did singularly entrance 
the will of men (so saith Saint Jerome, using these very 
words; note his observation), and her seemly mien and 
virtuous character. Among other suitors was a rich and 




high-born Roman Lord, likewise of Consular rank, and 
by name Cerealis, which did eagerly seek to persuade her 
to give him her hand in second marriage. Being some- 
thing far stricken in years, he did promise her great 
wealth and superb gifts as chiefest advantage in the 
match. Above all her mother, Albina by name, did 
strongly urge her to the marriage, thinking it an excel- 
lent offer and one not lightly to be refused. But she 
made answer: "An if I had any wish to throw myself in 
the water and entangle me in the bonds of a second mar- 
riage, and not rather vow me to a second chastity, yet 
would I fain prefer to get me an husband rather an in- 
heritance." Then, the lover deeming she had said this 
with an eye to his advanced age, he made reply: that old 
folk might very well live long, and young ones die early. 
But she retorted : "True, the young may die early, but an 
old man cannot live long." At which word he did take 
umbrage, and so left her. I find this fair lady's saying 
admirable and her resolve most commendable. 

Not less so was that of Martia, named above, whose 
behaviour was not so open to reproof as that of her 
sister Portia. For the latter, after the death of her 
husband, did determine to live no longer, but kill herself. 
Then all instruments of iron being removed, wherewith 
she might have taken her life, she did swallow live coals, 
and so burned all her inwards, declaring that for a brave 
woman means can never be lacking whereby to contrive 
her death. This hath been well told by Martial in one 
of his Epigrams, writ expressly on this lady's fate, and 
a fine poem it is. Yet did she not, according to certain 
philosophers, and in especial Aristotle in his Ethics, 
(speaking of courage or fortitude) show herein any high 




degree of courage or magnanimity in killing herself, as 
many others have done, and her own husband; for that, 
to avoid a greater ill, they do throw themselves upon the 
less. On this point I have writ a discourse elsewhere. 
Be this as it may, 'twould surely have been better, had 
this same Portia rather devoted her days to mourning her 
husband and avenging his death than in contriving her 
own. For this did serve no good end whatsoever, except 
mayhap a gratification of her own pique, as I have heard 
some women say in blame of her action. Natheless for 
myself, I cannot enough commend her, and all other 
widows, which do show their love for their dead husbands 
as lively as in their lifetime. And this is why Saint Paul 
hath so highly praised and commended them, holding this 
doctrine of his great Master. Yet have I been taught 
of some of the most clear sighted and most eloquent per- 
sons I know, that beautiful young widows which do 
remain in that condition in the very flower of their sweet 
age and heyday of their life, do exercise an over great 
cruelty upon themselves and nature, so to conspire 
against their own selves, and refuse to taste again the 
gentle joys of a second marriage. This much doth di- 
vine law no less than human allow them, as well as nature, 
youth and beauty; yet must they needs abstain in obedi- 
ence to some vow and obstinate resolve, the which they 
have fantastically determined in their silly heads to keep 
to the vain and empty simulacra of their husbands, that 
standing like sentinels forgot in the other world, and 
dwelling yonder in the Elysian fields, be either altogether 
careless of them and their doings or mayhap do but 
deride the same. On this question generally all such dames 
should refer them to the eloquent remonstrances and 




excellent arguments the which Anna doth bring forward 
to her sister Dido, in the Fourth Book of the Aeneid. 
These be most excellent for to teach a fair young widow 
not over sternly to swear a vow of never altering her 
condition, rather out of bigotry than real religion. An 
if after their husbands' death, they should be crowned 
with fair chaplets of flowers or herbs, as was the custom 
of yore, and as is still done with young maids in our day, 
this triumph would be good and creditable while it lasted, 
and not of over long duration. But now all that may 
be given them, is a few words of admiration, the which 
do vanish into air so soon as spoken and perish as quick 
as the dead man's corse. Well then, let all fair young 
widows recognise the world and its claims, since they be 
of it still, and leave religion to old women and the strait 
rule to perpetual widowhood. 


ELL! enough said of widows which go fasting. 
'Tis time now to speak of another sort, to wit 
those which detesting all vows and abnegations 
against second marriages, do wed again and 
once more claim the aid of the gentle and agreeable God 
Hymen. Of such there be some which, over fond of their 
admirers during their husband's life, be already dreaming 
of another match before these be well dead, planning afore- 
hand betwixt them and their lovers the sort of life they 
will lead together: "Ah, me! an if mine husband were 
but dead," they say, "we would do this, we would do 
that ; we would live after this pleasant fashion, we would 
arrange it after that, and all so discreetly none should 




ever suspect our bygone loves. A right merry life we 
would have of it then; we would go to Paris, to Court, 
and bear us so wisely naught should ever do us hurt. You 
would pay court to such and such a great lady, I to such 
and such a great nobleman; we would get this from the 
King, and that. We would get our children provided with 
tutors and guardians, and have never a care for their 
property and governance. Rather would we be making 
our fortunes, or else enjoying theirs, pending their com- 
ing of age. We would have plenishing enough, with that 
of mine husband to boot; the last for sure we could not 
lack, for I wot well where be the title deeds and good 
crown pieces. In a word, who so happy as we should be?" 
and so on and so on. 

Such the fine words and pleasant plans these wives do 
indulge in to their lovers by anticipation. Some of them 
do only kill their husbands in wishes, words, hopes and 
longings ; but others there be that do actually haste them 
on the way to the tomb, if they be over laggard. Cases 
of this sort have been, and are yet to-day, more plenty 
before our Courts of Law and Parliaments than any would 
suppose. But verily 'tis better and more agreeable they 
do not as did a certain Spanish dame. For being ill 
treated of her husband, she did kill him, and afterward 
herself, having first writ this epitaph following, which 
she left on the table in her closet, indited in her own 

Aqui yaze qui a buscado una muger, 
Y con ella casado, no 1'ha podido hazer muger, 
A las otras, no a mi, cerca mi, dava contentamiento, 
Y pore este, y su flaqueza y atrevimiento, 
Yo lo he matado, 





For le dar pena de su pecado: 

Ya ray tan bien, por falta de nay juyzio, 

Y por dar fin a la mal-adventura qu'yo avio. 

(Here lieth one which did seek a wife, yet could not satisfy 
a wife; to other women, but not me, though near me, he would 
give contentment. And for this, and for his cowardice and 
insolence, I have killed him, to punish him for his sins. My- 
self likewise I have done to death, for lack of understanding, 
and to make an end of the unhappy life I had.) 

This lady was named Donna Madallena de Soria, the 
which, in the judgment of some, did a fine thing to kill 
her husband for the wrong he had done her; but did no 
less foolishly to slay herself, and indeed she doth admit 
as much, saying "for lack of understanding she did herself 
to death." She had done better to have led a merry life 
afterward, were it not, mayhap, she did fear the law and 
dread to get within its clutches, wherefore she did prefer 
to triumph over herself rather than trust her repute to 
the authority of the Judges. I can assure you, there have 
always been, and are yet women more astute than this ; for 
they do play their game so cunningly and covertly, that 
lo ! you have the husband gone to another world, and them- 
selves living a merry life and getting their complaisant 
gallants to give 'em no mere artificial joys with godemiches 
and the like, but the good, sound, real article. 

Other widows there be which do show more wisdom, 
virtue and love toward their late husbands, with never a 
suspicion of cruelty toward these. Rather they do mourn, 
lament and bewail them with such extremity of sorrow 
you would think they would not live one hour more. 
"Alackaday!" they cry, "am not I the most unhappy 




woman in all the world, and the most ill-starred to have 
lost so precious a possession? Gracious God! why dost 
not kill me straight, that I may follow him presently to 
the tomb? Nay! I care not to live on after him; for 
what is left me in this world or can ever come to me, to 
give me solace? An it were not for these babes he hath left 
me in pledge, and that they do yet need some stay, verily 
I would kill myself this very minute. Cursed be the hour 
ever I was born ! If only I might see his ghost, or behold 
him in a vision or dream, or by some magic art, how 
blessed should I be e'en now ! Oh ! sweetheart, sweet soul ! 
can I in no way follow thee in death? Yea! I will follow 
thee, so soon as, free from all human hindrance, I may 
be alone and do myself to death. What could make my 
life worth living, now I have had so irreparable a loss? 
With thee alive I could have no other wish but to live ; with 
thee dead, no wish but only to die! Well, well! is't not 
better for me to die now in thy love and favour and mine 
own good repute and satisfaction, than to drag on so 
sorrowful and unhappy a life, wherein is never a scrap 
of credit to be gotten? Great God ! what ills and torments 
I endure by thine absence! what a sweet deliverance, an 
if I might but see thee soon again, what a crown of bliss ! 
Alas! he was so handsome, he was so lovable! He was 
another Mars, another Adonis ! and more than all, he was 
so kind, and loved me so true, and treated me so fondly! 
In one word, in losing him, I have lost all mine happiness." 
Such and an infinity of the like words do our heart- 
broken widows indulge in after the death of their husbands. 
Some will make their moan in one way, others in another, 
but always something to the effect of what I have set 
down. Some do cry out on heaven, others curse this earth 




of ours ; some do blaspheme God, others vent their spleen 
on the world. Some again do feign to swoon, while others 
counterfeit death; some faint away, and others pretend 
to be mad and desperate and out of their wits, knowing 
no one and refusing to speak. In a word, I should never 
have done, if I were to try to specify all the false, feigned, 
affected tricks they do use for to prove their grief and 
mourning to the world. Of course I speak not of all, but 
of some, and a fine few these be and a good round number. 

Good folk of either sex that would console suchlike dole- 
ful widows, thinking no ill and supposing their grief genu- 
ine, do but lose their pains and none is a whit the better. 
Others again of these comforters, when they see the poor 
suffering object of their solicitude failing to keep up 
the farce and make the proper grimaces, do instruct them 
in their part, like a certain great lady I wot of, which 
would tell her daughter, "Now faint, my pet; you don't 
show near enough concern." 

Then presently, after all these wondrous rites per- 
formed, just like a torrent that after dashing headlong 
down its course, doth anon subside again and quietly 
return to its bed, or like a river that hath overflowed its 
banks, so you will see these widows recover them and 
return to their former complexion, gradually get back 
their spirits, begin to be merry once again and dream of 
worldly vanities. Instead of the death's-heads they were 
used to wear, whether painted, engraven or in relief, 
instead of dead men's bones set crosswise or enclosed in 
coffins, instead of tears, whether of jet or of enamelled 
gold, or simply painted, you will see them now adopt 
portraits of their husbands worn round the neck, though 
still adorned with death's-heads and tears painted in 




scrolls and the like, in fact sundry little gewgaws, yet 
all so prettily set off that spectators suppose they do use 
and wear the same rather by way of mourning for their 
deceased husbands than for worldly show. Then pres- 
ently, just as we see young birds, whenas they quit the 
parental nest, do not at the very first make very long 
flights, but fluttering from branch to branch do little by 
little learn the use of their wings, so these widows, quitting 
their mourning habits and desperate grief, do not appear 
in public at once, but taking greater and greater freedom 
by degrees, do at last throw off their mourning altogether, 
and toss their widows' weeds and flowing veil to the dogs, 
as the saying is, and letting love more than ever fill their 
heads, do dream of naught else but only a second marriage 
or other return to wanton living. So we find their great 
and violent sorrow hath no long duration. It had been 
better far to have exercised more moderation in their 

I knew once a very fair lady, which after her husband's 
death was so woebegone and utterly cast down that she 
would tear her hair, and disfigure her cheeks and bosom, 
pulling the longest face ever she could. And when folk 
did chide her for doing such wrong to her lovely counte- 
nance, "My God!" she would cry, "what would you have? 
What use is my pretty face to me now? Who should I 
safeguard it for, seeing mine husband is no more?" Yet 
some eight months later, who but she is making up her 
face with Spanish white and rouge and besprinkling her 
locks with powder, a marvellous change truly? 

Hereof I will cite an excellent example, for to prove my 
contention, that of a fair and honourable lady of Ephesus, 
which having lost her husband could find no consolation 




whatever in spite of all efforts of kinsmen and friends. 
Accordingly following her husband's funeral, with endless 
grief and sorrow, with sobs, cries, tears and lamentations, 
after he was duly put away in the charnel-house where his 
body was to rest, she did throw herself therein in spite of 
all that could be done to hinder, swearing and protesting 
stoutly she would never leave that place, but would there 
tarry to the end and finish her days beside her husband's 
corpse and never, never abandon the same. This resolu- 
tion she did hold to, and did actually so live by the space 
of two or three days. Meantime, as fortune would have 
it, a man of those parts was executed for some crime and 
hanged in the city, and afterward carried forth the walls 
to the gibbets there situate to the end of the bodies of 
malefactors so hanged and put to death should there 
remain for an example to others, carefully watched by a 
band of officers and soldiers to prevent their being carried 
off. So it fell out that a soldier that was guarding the 
body, and was standing sentry, did hear near by a very 
lamentable voice crying and approaching perceived 'twas 
in the charnel-house. Having gone down therein, he beheld 
the said lady, as fair and beautiful as day, all bathed in 
tears and lamenting sore; and accosting her, set him to 
enquiring the reason of her pitiful state, the which she 
told him gently enough. Thereupon doing his endeavours 
to console her grief, but naught succeeding for the first 
time, he did return again and once again. Finally he was 
enabled to gain his point, and did little by little comfort 
her and got her to dry her eyes ; till at length hearkening 
to reason, she did yield so far as that he had her twice 
over, holding her on her back on the very coffin of her 
husband, which did serve as their couch. This done, 





they did swear marriage, one with the other ; after which 
happy consummation, the soldier did return to his duty, 
to guard the gibbet, for 'twas a matter of life and death 
to him. But fortunate as he had been in this fine enter- 
prise of his and its carrying out, his misfortune now was 
such that while he was so inordinately taking his pleasure, 
lo ! the kinsfolk of the poor dangling criminal did steal up, 
for to cut the body down, an if they should find it un- 
guarded. So finding no guard there, they did cut it down 
with all speed, and carried the corpse away with them 
swiftly, to bury it where they might, to the end they might 
rid them of so great dishonour and a sight so foul and 
hateful to the dead man's kindred. The soldier coming 
up and finding the body a-missing, hied him in despair to 
his mistress, to tell her his calamity and how he was ruined 
and undone; for the law of that country was that any 
soldier which should sleep on guard and suffer the body 
to be carried off, should he put in its place and hanged 
instead, which risk he did thus run. The lady, who had 
but now been consoled of him, and had felt sore need of 
comfort for herself, did quick find the like for him, and 
said as follows : "Be not af eared ; only come help me to 
lift mine husband from his tomb, and we will hang him 
and set him up in place of the other; so they will take 
him for the other." No sooner said than done. Moreover 
'tis said the first occupant of the gibbet had had an ear 
cut off; so she did the same to the second, the better to 
preserve the likeness. Next day the officers of justice did 
visit the place, but found naught amiss. Thus did she save 
her gallant by a most abominable deed and wicked act 
toward her husband, the very same woman, I would have 
you note, which had so grievously deplored and lamented 





his loss, so that no man would ever have expected so 
shameful an issue. 

The first time ever I heard this history, 'twas told by 
M. d'Aurat, which did relate it to the gallant M. du Gua 
and sundry that were dining with him. M. du Gua was 
not one to fail to appreciate such a tale and to profit 
thereby, no man in all the world loving better a good anec- 
dote or better able to turn the same to account. Accord- 
ingly soon after, being come into the Queen's chamber, 
he saw there a young, new-made widow, but just bereaved 
and all disconsolate, her veil drawn half way down her 
face, sad and pitiful, with scarce a word for any man. 
Of a sudden M. du Gua said to me: "Dost see yonder 
widow? well! before a year be out, she will one day be 
doing as the lady of Ephesus did." And so she did, though 
not altogether so shamefully ; but she did marry a man of 
base condition, even as M. du Gua had foretold. 

The same story I had also of M. de Beau-Joyeux, valet 
of the chamber to the Queen Mother, and the best violin 
player in Christendom. Not only was he perfect in his art 
and music generally, but he was likewise of an amiable 
disposition, and well instructed, above all in excellent 
tales and fine stories, little known and of rare quality. 
Of these he was by no means niggardly with his more inti- 
mate friends, and beside could relate sundry frdm his own 
experience, for in his day he had both seen many good 
love adventures and had not a few of his own; for what 
with his noble gift of music and his good, bold spirit, 
two weapons very meet for love, he could carry far. The 
Marechal de Brissac had given him to the Queen Mother, 
having sent him to her from Piedmont with his company 
of violins, the whole most exquisite and complete. He was 





then called Baltazarin, but did after change his name. 
Of his composition were those pretty ballets that be always 
danced at Court. He was a great friend of M. du Gua and 
myself ; and we would often converse together. On these 
occasions he had always some good tale ready to tell, 
especially of love and ladies' wiles. Among such he did 
tell us that of the lady of Ephesus, already heard from 
M. d'Aurat, as I have mentioned, who said he had it 
from Lampridius. Since then I have read it also in the 
Booh of Obsequies (des Funerailles), a right excellent 
work, dedicated to the late M. de Savoie. 

The author might surely have spared us this digression, 
some may object. Yea! but then I was fain to make 
mention of my friend hereanent, which did oft bring the 
story to my mind, whenever he beheld any of our woe-be- 
gone widows. "Look!" he would exclaim, "see yonder 
one that will some day play the part of our lady of 
Ephesus, or else mayhap she hath played it already." 
And by my faith, 'twas a mighty strange tragi-comedy, an 
act full of heartlessness, so cruelly to insult her dead 

At the massacre of the Saint Bartholomew was slain 
the Seigneur de Pleuviau, who in his time had been a right 
gallant soldier, without a doubt, in the War of Tuscany 
under M. de Soubise, as well as in the Civil War, as he did 
plainly show at the battle of Jarnac, being in command 
of a regiment there, and in the siege of Niort. Some 
while after the soldier which had killed him did inform 
his late wife, all distraught with grief and tears, she 
was both beautiful and wealthy, that an if she would 
not marry him, he would kill her and make her go the 
same way as her husband ; for at that merry time, 'twas 



all fighting and cut-throat work. The unhappy woman 
accordingly, which was still both young and fair, was 
constrained, for to save her life, to celebrate wedding and 
funeral all in one. Yet was she very excusable; for 
indeed what could a poor fragile, feeble woman have done 
else, unless it had been to kill herself, or give her tender 
bosom to the murderous steel? But verily 

Le temps n'est plus, belle bergeronnette, 
(Those days be done, fair shepherdess;) 

and these fond fanatics of yore exist no more. Beside, 
doth not our holy Christian faith forbid it? This is a 
grand excuse for all widows nowadays, who always say, 
and if 'twere not forbid of God, they would kill them- 
selves. Thus do they mask their inaction. 

At this same massacre was made another widow, a lady 
of very good family and most beauteous and charming. 
The same, while, yet in the first desolation of widowhood, 
was forced by a gentleman that I know well enough by 
name ; whereat was she so bewildered and disconsolate she 
did well nigh lose her senses for some while. Yet presently 
after she did recover her wits and making the best of her 
widowhood and going back little by little to worldly vani- 
ties and regaining her natural lively spirits, did forget her 
wrongs and make a new match, gallant and high-born. 
And in this I ween she did well. 

I will tell yet another story of this massacre. An- 
other lady which was there made a widow by the death of 
her husband, murdered like the rest, was in such sorrow 
and despair thereat, that whenever she did set eyes on 
a poor unoffending Catholic, even though he had not 




taken part in the celebration at all, she would either faint 
away altogether, or would gaze at him with as much horror 
and detestation as though he were the plague. To enter 
Paris, nay ! to look at it from anywhere in the neighbour- 
hood within two miles, was not to be thought of, for 
neither eyes nor heart could bear the sight. To see it, 
say I? why! she could not bear so much as to hear it 
named. At the end of two years, however, she did think 
better, and hies her away willingly enough to greet the 
good town, and visit the same, and drive to the Palace 
in her coach. Yet rather than pass by the Rue de la 
Huchette, where her husband had been killed, she would 
have thrown herself headlong into fire and destruction 
rather than into the said street, being herein like the 
serpent, which according to Pliny, doth so abhor the shade 
of the ash as that 'twill rather adventure into the most 
blazing fire than under this tree so hateful is it to the 

In fact, the late King, the then reigning King's brother, 
was used to declare he had never seen a woman so des- 
perate and haggard at her loss and grief as this lady, 
and that 'twould end by their having to bring her down 
and hood her, as they do with haggard falcons. But after 
some while he found she was prettily enough tamed of her 
own accord, in such sort she would suffer herself to be 
hooded quite quietly and privily, without any bringing 
down but her own will. Then after some while more, what 
must she be at but embrace her Paris with open arms and 
regard its pleasures with a very favourable eye, parading 
hither and thither through its streets, traversing the city 
up and down, and measuring its length and breadth this 
way and that, without ever a thought of any vow to the 




contrary. Mighty surprised was I myself one day, on re- 
turning from a journey, after an absence of eight months 
from Court, when after making my bow to the King, I 
did suddenly behold this same widow entering the great 
Hall of the Louvre, all tricked out and bedecked, accom- 
panied by her kinswomen and friends, and there appear- 
ing before the King and Queen, the Royal personages and 
all the Court, and there receiving the first orders of mar- 
riage, affiancing to wit, at the hands of a Prelate, the 
Bishop of Digne, Grand Almoner of the Queen of Navarre. 
Who so astonished as I? Yet by what she did tell me 
after, she was even more asLounded, whenas thinking 
me far away, she saw me among the noble company present 
at her affiancing, standing there gazing at her and chal- 
lenging her with mine eyes. Neither of us could forget 
the oaths and affirmations made betwixt us, for I had been 
her admirer and suitor for her hand and indeed she 
thought I had come thither of set purpose to appear on 
the appointed day to be witness against her and judge 
of her faithlessness, and condemn her false behaviour. 
She told me further, how that she would liever have given 
ten thousand crowns of her wealth than that I should 
have appeared as I did, and so helped to raise up her 
conscience against her. 

I once knew a very great lady, a widowed Countess, of 
the highest family, which did the like. For being a 
Huguenot of the most rigorous sort, she did agree to a 
match with a very honourable Catholic gentleman. But the 
sad thing was that before the completion of the marriage, 
a pestilential fever that was epidemic at Paris did seize 
her so sore as to bring her to her end. In her anguish, 
she did give way to many and bitter regrets, crying: 



"Alas ! can it be that in a great city like Paris, where all 
learning doth abound, never a doctor can be found to 
cure me ! Nay ! let him never stop for money ; I will give 
him enough and to spare. At any rate 'twere not so bitter, 
an if my death had but come after my marriage, and 
my husband had learned first how well I loved and hon- 
oured him!" (Sophonisba said differently, for she did re- 
pent her of having wedded before drinking the poison.) 
Saying these and other words of like tenour the poor 
Countess did turn her to the other side of the bed, and so 
died. Truly this is the very fervour of love, so to go about 
to remember, in midst of the Stygian passage to oblivion, 
the pleasures and fruits of passion she would so fain 
have tasted of, before quitting the garden! 

I have heard speak of another lady, which being sick 
unto death, overhearing one of her kinsfolk abusing an- 
other (yet are they very worthy folk really), and upbraid- 
ing her with the enormous size of her parts, she did 
start a-laughing and cried out, "You pair of fools, you !" 
and so turning o* the other side, she did pass away with 
the laugh on her lips. 

Well! an if these Huguenot dames have made such 
matches, I have likewise known plenty of Catholic ladies 
that have done the same, and wedded Huguenot husbands, 
and that after using every hang-dog expression of them 
and their religion. If I were to put them all down, I 
should never have done. And this is why your widow 
should always be prudent, and not make so much noise at 
the first beginning of her widowhood, screaming and cry- 
ing, making storms of thunder and lightning, with tears 
for rain, only afterward to give up her shield of defence 
and get well laughed at for her pains. Better far it 





were to say less, and do more. But themselves do say to 
this: "Nay! nay! at the first beginning we must needs 
steel our hearts like a murderer, and put on a bold front, 
resolved to swallow every shame. This doth last a while, 
but only a while; then presently, after being chief dish 
on the table and most observed of all, we be left alone and 
another takes our place." 

I have read in a little Spanish work how Vittoria 
Colonna, daughter of the great Fabrice Colonna, and 
wife to the great and famous Marquis de Pescaire, the 
nonpareil of his time, after losing her husband, and God 
alone knoweth how good an one he was, did fall into such 
despair and grief 'twas impossible to give or afford her 
any consolation whatever. When any did offer any form 
of comfort, old or new, she would answer them: "For 
what would you give me consolation? for my husband 
that is dead? Nay! you deceive yourselves; he is not 
dead. He is yet alive, I tell you, and stirring within mine 
heart. I do feel him, every day and every night, come to 
life and move and be born again in me." Very noble 
words indeed these had been, if only after some while, 
having taken farewell of him and sent him on his way 
over Acheron, she had not married again with the Abbe 
de Farfe, an ill match to the noble Pescaire. I mean 
not in family, for he was of the noble house of the Des 
Ursins, the which is as good, and eke as ancient, as that 
of Avalos, or more so. But the merits of the one did far 
outweight those of the other, for truly those of Pescaire 
were inestimable, and his valour beyond compare, while the 
said Abbe, albeit he gave much proof of his bravery, and 
did work very faithfully and doughtily in the service of 
King Francis, was yet employed only in small, obscure and 



light emprises, far different from those of the other, 
which had wrought great and conspicuous deeds, and won 
right famous victories. Moreover the profession of arms 
followed by the Marquis, begun and regularly pursued 
from his youth up, could not but be finer far than that 
of a churchman, which had but late in life taken up the 
hardier calling. 

Saying this, I mean not to imply thereby think ill of 
any which after being vowed to God and the service of 
his Church, have broke the vow and left the profession of 
religion for to set hands to weapons of war; else should 
I be wronging many and many a great Captain that hath 
been a priest first and gone through this experience. 


BORGIA, Due de Valentinois, was 
he not first of all a Cardinal, the same 
which afterward was so great a Captain that 
Macchiavelli, the venerable instructor of 
Princes and great folk, doth set him down for example 
and mirror to all his fellows, to follow after and mould 
them on him? Then we have had the famous Marechal 
de Foix, which was first a Churchman and known as the 
Protonotary de Foix, but afterward became a great Cap- 
tain. The Marechal Strozzi likewise was first vowed to 
holy Church; but for a red hat which was refused him, 
did quit the cassock and take to arms. M. de Salvoison, 
of whom I have spoke before (which did follow close at 
the former's heels, and was as fit as he to bear the title 
of great Captain, and indeed would have marched side 
by side with him, an if he had been of as great a house, 





and kinsman of the Queen), was, by original profession, 
a wearer of the long robe; yet what a soldier was he! 
Truly he would have been beyond compare, if only he had 
lived longer. Then the Marechal de Bellegarde, did he 
not carry the lawyer cap, being long named the Provost 
of Ours? The late M. d'Enghien, the same that fell at 
the battle of St. Quentin, had been a Bishop ; the Chevalier 
de Bonnivet the same. Likewise that gallant soldier M. de 
Martigues had been of the Church ; and, in brief, an host 
of others, whose names I cannot spare paper to fill in. I 
must say a word too of mine own people, and not without 
good cause. Captain Bourdeille, mine own brother, erst 
the Rodomont of Piedmont in all ways, was first dedicate 
to the Church. But not finding that to be his natural 
bent, he did change his cassock for a soldier's jacket, and 
in a turn of the hand did make him one of the best and 
most valiant captains in all Piedmont. He would for 
sure have become a great and famous man, had he not 
died, alas! at only five and twenty years of age. 

In our own day and at our own Court of France, we 
have seen many such, and above all our little friend, the 
noble Clermont-Tallard, whom I had seen as Abbe of Bon- 
Port, but who afterward leaving his Abbey, was seen in 
our army and at Court, one of the bravest, most valiant 
and worthy men of the time. This he did show right well 
by his glorious death at La Rochelle, the very first time 
we did enter the fosse of that fortress. I could name 
a thousand such, only I should never have done. M. de 
Soleillas, 1 known as the young Oraison, had been Bishop 
of Riez and after had a regiment, serving his King right 
faithfully and valiantly in Guienne, under the Marechal 
de Matignon. 



In short I should never have done, an if I were for 
enumerating all such cases. Wherefore I do stop, both 
for brevity's sake, and also for fear I be reproached for 
that I indulge overmuch in digressions. Yet is this one 
not inopportune I have made, when speaking of Vittoria 
Colonna which did marry thp Abbe. An if she had not 
married again with him, she had better deserved her name 
and title of Vittoria, by being victorious over herself. 
Seeing she could not find a second husband to match the 
first, she should have refrained her altogether. 

I have known many ladies which have copied her how- 
ever. One I knew did marry one of mine uncles, the 
most brave, valiant and perfect gentleman of his time. 
After his death, she did marry another as much like him 
as an ass to a Spanish charger; but 'twas mine uncle 
was the Spanish steed. Another lady I knew once, which 
had wedded a Marshal of France, a handsome, honourable 
gentleman and a valiant; in second wedlock she did take 
one in every way his opposite, and one that had been a 
Churchman too. What was yet more blameworthy in her 
was this, that on going to Court, where she had not ap- 
peared for twenty years, not indeed since her second mar- 
riage, she did re-adopt the name and title of her first 
husband. This is a matter our courts of law and par- 
liament should look into and legislate against ; for I have 
seen an host of others which have done the like, herein 
unduly scorning their later husbands, and showing them 
unwilling to bear their name after their death. For hav- 
ing committed the fault, why ! they should drink the cup 
to the dregs and feel themselves bound by what they have 

Another widow I once knew, on her husband's dying, 




did make such sore lamentation and so despairing by the 
space of a whole year, that 'twas hourly expected to see 
her dead right off. At the end of a year, when she was 
to leave off her heavy mourning and take to the lighter, 
she said to one of her women: "Prithee, pull me in that 
crepe becomingly ; for mayhap I may make another con- 
quest." But immediately she did interrupt herself: 
"Nay ! what am I talking about ? I am dreaming. Better 
die than have anything more to do with such follies." 
Yet after her mourning was complete, she did marry 
again to a husband very unequal to the first. "But," 
and this is what these women always say, "he was of as 
good family as the other." Yes! I admit it; but then, 
what of virtue and worth? are not these more worth 
counting than all else? The best I find in it all is this, 
that the match once made, their joy therein is far from 
long; for God doth allow them to be properly ill-treated 
of their new lords and bullied. Soon you will see them 
all repentance, when it is too late. 

These dames which do thus re-marry have some opin- 
ion or fancy in their heads we wot not of. So have I 
heard speak of a Spanish lady, which desiring to marry 
again, when they did remonstrate with her, asking what 
was to become of the fond love her husband had borne 
her, did make answer: La muerte del marido y nuevo 
casamiento no han de romper el amor ff una casta muger, 
"The death of husband and a new marriage should in no 
wise break up the love of a good woman." Well ! so much 
shall be granted, an if you please. Another Spanish 
dame said better, when they were for marrying her again : 
Si hallo un marido bueno, no quiero tener el temor de 
perderlo; y si malo, que necessidad he del, "An if I find 



a good husband, I wish not to be exposed to the fear of 
losing him; but if a bad, what need to have one at all?" 

Valeria, a Roman lady, having lost her husband, whenas 
some of her companions were condoling with her on his 
loss and death, said thus to them : " 'Tis too true he is 
dead for you all, but he liveth in me for ever." The fair 
Marquise I have spoke of a little above, had borrowed 
a like phrase from her. These expressions of these noble 
ladies do differ much from what a Spanish ill-wisher of 
the sex declared, to wit: que la Jornada de la biudez d' 
una muger es d' un dia, "that the day of a woman's 
widowhood is one day long." A lady I must now tell of 
did much worse. This was Madame de Moneins, whose 
husband was King's lieutenant, and was massacred at Bor- 
deaux, by the common folk in a salt-excise riot. So soon 
as ever news was brought her that her husband had been 
killed and had met the fate he did, she did straight cry 
out : "Alas ! my diamond, what hath become of it ?" This 
she had given him by way of marriage present, being 
worth ten to twelve hundred crowns of the money of the 
day, and he was used to wear it always on his finger. By 
this exclamation she did let folk plainly see which grief 
she did bear the more hardly, the loss of her husband or 
that of the diamond. 

Madame d'Estampes was a high favourite with King 
Francis, and for that cause little loved of her husband. 
Once when some widow or other came to her asking her 
pity for her widowed state, "Why ! dear heart," said she, 
"you are only too happy in your condition, for I tell you, 
one cannot be a widow by wishing for't," as if implying 
she would love to be one. Some women be so situate, 
others not. 





But what are we to say of widows which do keep their 
marriage hid, and will not have it published? One such I 
knew, which did keep hers under press for more than seven 
or eight years, without ever consenting to get it printed 
and put in circulation. 'Twas said she did so out of ter- 
ror of her son, as yet only a youth, but afterward one of 
the bravest and most honourable men in all the world, 
lest he should play the deuce with her and her man, albeit 
he was of very high rank. But so soon as ever her son 
fell in a warlike engagement, dying so as to win a crown 
of glory, she did at once have her marriage printed off 
and published abroad. 

I have heard of another widow, a great lady, which 
was married to a very great nobleman and Prince, more 
than fifteen years agone. Yet doth the world know nor 
hear aught thereof, so secret and discreet is it kept. Re- 
port saith the Prince was afeared of his mother-in-law, 
which was very imperious with him, and was most un- 
willing he should marry again because of his young chil- 

I knew another very great lady, which died but a short 
while agone, having been married to a simple gentleman 
for more than twenty years, without its being known at 
all, except by mere gossip and hearsay. Ho! but there 
be some queer cases of the sort! 

I have heard it stated by a lady of a great and ancient 
house, how that the late Cardinal du Bellay was wedded, 
being then Bishop and Cardinal, to Madame de Chastillon, 
and did die a married man. This she did declare in a 
conversation she held with M. de Mane, a Proven9al, of 
the house of Senjal and Bishop of Frejus, which had 
served the said Cardinal for fifteen years at the Court of 





Rome, and had been one of his privy protonotaries. 
Well! happening to speak of the Cardinal, she did ask 
M. de Mane if he had ever told him or confessed to him 
that he was married. Who so astounded as M. de Mane 
at such a question? He is yet alive and can contradict 
me, if I lie ; for I was present. He made answer he had 
never heard him speak of it, either to him or to others. 
"Well, then ! I am the first to tell you," she replied ; "for 
nothing is more true than that he was so married ; and he 
died actually the husband of the said Madame de Chas- 
tillon, before a widow." I can assure you I had a fine 
laugh, seeing the astonished face of poor M. de Mane, 
who was a very careful and religious man, and thought 
he knew every secret of his late master; but he was out 
of court for this one. And indeed 'twas a scandalous 
license on the Cardinal's part, considering the sacred of- 
fice he held. 

This Madame de Chastillon was the widow of the late 
M. de Chastillon, the same which was said to chiefly gov- 
ern the young King Charles VIII. along with Bourdillon, 
Galiot and Bonneval, the guardians of the blood royal. 
He died at Ferrara, having been wounded at the siege 
of Ravenna, and carried thither to be healed. She be- 
came a widow when very young, being both fair and also 
wise and virtuous, albeit but in appearance, as witness 
this marriage of hers, and so was chosen maid of honour 
to the late Queen of Navarre. She it was that did tender 
the excellent advice to this noble lady and great Princess, 
which is writ in the Cent Nouvelles of the said Queen. 
The tale is of her and a certain gentleman which had 
slipped by night into her bed by a little trap-door in the 
wainscot beside her bed, and was fain to enjoy the reward 




of his address ; yet did win naught but some fine scratches 
on his pretty face. The Queen being purposed to make 
complaint of the matter to her brother, he did remon- 
strate with her very judiciously, as may be read in the 
Nouvelle or Tale in question, and did give her the ex- 
cellent advice referred to, as good and judicious and as 
well adapted to avoid scandal as could possibly be devised. 
Indeed it might have been a First President of the Par- 
liament of Paris that gave the advice, which did show 
plainly, however, the lady to be no less skilled and experi- 
enced in such mysteries than wise and judicious; where- 
fore there can be little doubt she did keep her affair with 
the Cardinal right well hidden. 

My grandmother, the Seneschale de Poitou, had her 
place after her death, by choice of King Francis him- 
self, which did name and elect her to the post, sending all 
the way to her home to summon her. Then he did give 
her over with his own hand to the Queen his sister, foras- 
much as he knew her to be a very prudent and very vir- 
tuous lady, indeed he was used to call her my knight 
without reproach, albeit not so experienced, adroit and 
cunning in suchlike matters as her predecessor, nor one 
that had contracted a second marriage under the rose. 
But an if you would know who are intended in the Tale, 
'twas writ of the Queen of Navarre herself and the Ad- 
miral de Bonnivet, as I have been assured by my grand- 
mother. Yet doth it appear to me the Queen need never 
have been at pains to conceal her name, seeing the other 
could get no hold over her virtue, but did leave her all in 
confusion. Indeed she was only too wishful to make the 
facts public, had it not been for the good and wise advice 
given her by that same maid of honour, Madame de Chas- 





tillon. Anyone that hath read the Tale will find it as I 
have represented it. And I do believe that the Cardinal, 
her husband as aforesaid, which was one of the cleverest 
and wisest, most eloquent, learned and well-advised men 
of his day, had instilled this discreetness in her mind, to 
make her speak so well and give such excellent counsel. 
The tale might mayhap be thought somewhat over scan- 
dalous by some in view of the sacred and priestly profes- 
sion of the Cardinal ; but, an if any be fain to repeat the 
same, well ! he must e'en suppress the name. 

Well! if this marriage was kept secret, 'twas by no 
means so with that of the last Cardinal de Chastillon. 
For indeed he did divulge and make it public quite enough 
himself, without need to borrow any trumpet; and did 
die a married man, without ever having quitted his gown 
and red hat. On the one hand he did excuse himself 
by alleging the reformed faith, whereof he was a firm 
adherent; on the other by the contention that he was 
desirous of still retaining his rank and not giving up the 
same (a thing he would most surely never have done in 
any case), so as he might continue of the council, whereof 
being a member he could well serve his faith and party. 
For 'tis very true he was a most able, influential and very 
powerful personage. 

I do imagine the aforenamed noble Cardinal du Bellay 
may have done the like for like reasons. For at that 
time he was no little inclined to the faith and doctrine of 
Luther, and indeed the Court of France generally was 
somewhat affected by the taint. The fact is, all novel- 
ties be pleasing at first, and beside, the said doctrine 
did open an agreeable license to all men, and especially 
to ecclesiastics, to enter the married state. 






JOWEVER let us say no more of these dignified 
folk, in view of the deep respect we do owe 
their order and holy rank. We must now 
something put through their paces those old 
widows we wot of that have not six teeth left in their 
chops, and yet do marry again. 'Tis no long while 
agone that a lady of Guienne, already widowed of three 
husbands, did marry for a fourth a gentleman of some 
position in that province, she being then eighty. I know 
not why she did it, seeing she was very rich and had 
crowns in plenty, indeed 'twas for this the gentleman 
did run after her, unless it were that she was fain not 
to surrender just yet, but to win more amorous laurels 
to add to her old ones, as Mademoiselle Sevin, the Queen 
of Navarre's jester, was used to say. 

Another great lady I knew, which did remarry at the 
age of seventy-six, wedding a gentleman of a lower rank 
than her previous husband, and did live to an hundred. 
Yet did she continue beautiful to the last, having been 
one of the finest women of her time, and one that had 
gotten every sort of delight out of her young body, both 
as wife and widow, so 'twas said. 

Truly a formidable pair of women, and of a right hot 
complexion ! And indeed I have heard experienced bakers 
declare how that an old oven is far easier to heat than a 
new one, and when once heated, doth better keep its heat 
and make better bread. 

I wot not what savoury appetites they be which do stir 




husbands and lovers to prefer these hot-loaf dainties ; but 
I have seen many gallant and brave gentlemen no less 
eager in love, nay! more eager, for old women than for 
young. They tell me 'twas to get worldly profit of them ; 
but some I have seen also, which did love such with most 
ardent passion, without winning aught from their purse 
at all, except that of their person. So have we all seen 
erstwhile a very great and sovran Prince, 1 which did so 
ardently love a great dame, a widow and advanced in 
years, that he did desert his wife and all other women, no 
matter how young and lovely, for to sleep with her only. 
Yet herein was he well advised, seeing she was one of the 
fairest and most delightsome women could ever be seen, 
and for sure her winter was better worth than the spring- 
tide, summer and autumn of the rest. Men which have 
had dealings with the courtesans of Italy have seen, and 
do still see, not a few cases where lovers do choose the 
most famous and long experienced in preference, and those 
that have most shaken their skirts, hoping with them to 
find something more alluring in body or in wit. And 
this is why the beauteous Cleopatra, being summoned of 
Mark Antony to come see him, was moved with no appre- 
hension, being well assured that, inasmuch as she had 
known how to captivate Julius Caesar and Cnaeus Pom- 
peius, the son of Pompey the Great, when she was yet 
but a slip of a girl, and knew not thoroughly the ways 
and wiles of her trade, she could manage better still her 
new lover, a very fleshly and coarse soldier of a man, now 
that she was in the full fruition of her experience and 
ripe age. Nor did she fail. In fact, the truth is that, 
while youth is most meet to attract the love of some men, 
with others 'tis maturity, a sufficient age, a practised wit, 




a long experience, a well-hung tongue and a well trained 
hand, that do best serve to seduce them. 

There is one doubtful point as to which I did one time 
ask doctors' opinion, a question suggested by one who 
asked why his health was not better, seeing all his life 
long he had never known nor touched old women, accord- 
ing to the physicians' aphorism which saith: vetulam non 
cognovi, "I have known never an old woman." Among 
many other quaint matters, be sure of this, these doc- 
tors did tell me an old proverb which saith: "In an old 
barn is fine threshing, but an old flail is good for naught." 
Others say: "Never mind how old a beast be, so it will 
bear." I was told moreover that in their practice they 
had known old women which were so ardent and hot- 
blooded, that cohabiting with a young man, they do draw 
all ever they can from him, taking whatever he hath of 
substance, the better to moisten their own drouth ; I speak 
of such as by reason of age be dried up and lack proper 
humours. The same medical authorities did give me other 
reasons to boot ; but an if readers be still curious, I leave 
them to ask further for themselves. 

I have seen an aged widow, and a great lady too, which 
did put under her tooth in less than four years a third 
husband and a young nobleman she had taken for lover; 
and did send the pair of them under the sod, not by violence 
or poison, but by mere enfeeblement and distillation of 
their substance. Yet to look at this lady, none had ever 
supposed her capable of aught of the sort; for indeed, 
before folk she did rather play the prude and poor-spir- 
ited hypocrite, actually refusing to change her shift in 
presence of her women for fear of their seeing her naked. 
But as one of her kinswomen declared, these objections 





were all for her women, not for her lovers and admirers. 
But come, what is the difference in merit and repute 
betwixt a woman which hath had several husbands in her 
life, and there be plenty that have had as many as three, 
four or even five, and another which in her life shall have 
had but her husband and a lover, or two or three, and 
I have actually known some women continent and faithful 
to that degree? As to this, I have heard a noble lady 
of the great world say she found naught to choose betwixt 
a lady who had had several husbands, and one that had 
had but a lover or so, along with her husband, unless 
it be that the marriage veil doth cover a multitude of 
sins. But in point of sensuality and naughtiness, she said 
there was not a doit of difference. Herein do they but 
illustrate the Spanish proverb, which saith that algunas 
mugeres son de natura de anguttas en retener, y de lobas 
en excoger, "some women are like eels to hold, and she- 
wolves to choose," for that the eel is mighty slippery and 
ill to hold, and the she-wolf doth alway choose the ugliest 
wolf for mate. 

It befell me once at Court, as I have described else- 
where, that a lady of a sufficiently exalted rank, which 
had been four times married, did happen to tell me she 
had just been dining with her brother-in-law, and I must 
guess who 'twas. This she said quite simply, without any 
thought of roguishness; and I answered with a touch of 
waggery, yet laughing the while : "Am I a diviner to guess 
such a riddle? You have been married four times: I 
leave to the imagination how many brothers-in-law you 
may have." To this she retorted: "Nay! but you speak 
knavishly," and named me the particular brother-in-law. 




"Now you do talk sense," I said then; "before you were 
talking all at large." 

There was in old days at Rome 2 a lady which had had 
two and twenty husbands one after other, and similarly a 
man which had had one and twenty wives. The pair did 
hereupon bethink them to make a suitable match by re- 
marrying once more to each other. Eventually the hus- 
band did outlive the wife ; and was so highly honoured and 
esteemed at Rome of all the people for this his noble 
victory, that like a successful General, he was prom- 
enaded up and down in a triumphal car, crowned with 
laurel and palm in hand. A splendid victory truly, and 
a well deserved triumph! 

In the days of King Henri II., there was at his Court 
a certain Seigneur de Barbazan, Saint-Amand by sur- 
name, which did marry thrice three wives one after 
other. His third was daughter of Madame de Monchy, 
governess to the Duchesse de Lorraine, who more doughty 
than the other two, did quite surpass them, for he died 
under her. Now whenas folk were mourning his loss at 
Court, and she in like wise was inordinately afflicted at 
her bereavement, M. de Montpezat, a very witty man, did 
rebuke all this demonstration, saying: that instead of 
compassionating her, they should commend and extol her 
to the skies for the victory she had gotten over her man, 
who was said to have been so vigorous a wight and so 
strong and well provided that he had killed his two first 
wives by dint of doing his devoir on them. But this lady, 
for that she had not succumbed in the contest but had 
remained victorious, should be highly praised and admired 
of all the Court for so glorious a success, a victory won 
over so valiant and robust a champion; and that for the 





same cause herself had every reason to be proud. What 
a victory, and what a source of pride, pardy! 

I have heard the same doctrine cited a little above 
maintained also by a great nobleman of France, who said : 
that he did find no difference 'twixt a woman that had had 
four or five husbands, as some have had, and a whore 
which hath had three or four lovers one after other. 
Similarly a gallant gentleman I wot of, having wedded 
a wife that had been three times married already, one 
I also know by name, a man of ready tongue and wit, 
did exclaim: "He hath married at last a whore from the 
brothel of good name." I'faith, women which do thus 
marry again and again be like grasping surgeons, that 
will not at once bind up the wounds of a poor wounded 
man, so as to prolong the cure and the better to be gain- 
ing all the while their bits of fees. Nay ! one dame of this 
sort was used actually to say outright : " 'Tis a poor 
thing to stop dead in the very middle of one's career ; one 
is bound to finish, and go on to the end !" 

I do wonder that these women which be so hot and 
keen to marry again, and at the same time so stricken 
in years, do not for their credit's sake make some use of 
cooling remedies and antiphlogistic potions, so as to drive 
out all these heated humours. Yet so far be they from 
any wish to use the like, as that they do employ the very 
opposite treatment, declaring suchlike cooling boluses 
would ruin their stomach. I have seen and read a little 
old-fashioned tract in Italian, but a silly book withal, 
which did undertake to give recipes against lasciviousness, 
and cited some two and thirty. But these be all so silly 
I recommend not women to use them, nor to submit them- 
selves to any such annoying regimen. And so I have 





not thought good to copy them in here. Pliny doth 
adduce one, which in former days the Vestal virgins were 
used to employ; the Athenian dames did resort to the 
same remedy during the festivals of the goddess Ceres, 
known as the Thesmophoria, to cool their humours there- 
by and take away all hot appetite of concupiscence. 'Twas 
to sleep on mattresses of the leaves of a tree called the 
agnus castus. But be sure, an if during the feast they 
did mortify themselves in this wise, after the same was 
over, they did very soon pitch their mattresses to the 

I have seen a tree of the sort at a house in Guienne 
belonging to a very high-born, honourable and beautiful 
lady. She would oft times show the tree to strangers 
which came thither as a great rarity, and tell them its 
peculiar property. But devil take me if ever I have seen 
or heard tell of woman or dame that hath sent to gather 
one single branch, or made the smallest scrap of mattress 
from its leaves. Certainly not the lady that owned the 
said tree, who might have made what use she pleased 
thereof. Truly, it had been a pity an if she had, and her 
husband had not been best pleased ; for so fair and charm- 
ing a dame was she, 'twas only right nature should be 
allowed her way, and she hath borne to boot a noble line 
of offspring. 


. . . 44 4444444444444 .44.4 44 



|ND to speak truth, suchlike harsh, chill medi- 
cines should be left to poor nuns and pre- 
scribed to them only, which for all their fast- 
ing and mortifying of the flesh, be oft times 
sore assailed, poor creatures, with temptations of the 
flesh. An if only they had their freedom, they would be 
ready enough, at least some would, to take like refresh- 
ment with their more worldly sisters, and not seldom do 
they repent them of their repentance. This is seen with 
the Roman courtesans, as to one of whom I must tell a 
diverting tale. She was vowed to take the veil, but before 
her going finally to the nunnery, a former lover of hers, 
a gentleman of France, doth come to bid her farewell, 
ere she entered the cloister forever. But before leaving 
her, he did ask one more gratification of his passion, and 
she did grant the same, with these words: Fate dunque 
presto; ch' adesso mi veranno cercar per far mi monaca, 
e menare al monasterio, "Do it quick then, for they be 
coming directly to make me a nun and carry me off to 
cloister." We must suppose she was fain to do it this 
once as a final treat, and say with the Roman poet: 
Tandem hcec dim meminisse juvabit, " 'Twill be good 
to remember in future days this last delight." A strange 
repentance insooth and a quaint novitiate! But truly 
when once they be professed, at any rate the good-looking 
ones, (though of course there be exceptions), I do believe 
they live more on the bitter herb of repentance than any 
other bodily or spiritual sustenance. 

Some however there be which do contrive a remedy for 
this state of things, whether by dispensation or by sheer 





license they do take for themselves. For in our lands 
they have no such dire treatment to fear as the Romans 
in old days did mete out to their Vestal virgins which 
had gone astray. This was verily hateful and abominable 
in its cruelty ; but then they were pagans and abounding 
in horrors and cruelties. On the contrary we Christians, 
which do follow after the gentleness of our Lord Christ, 
should be tender-hearted as he was, and forgiving as he 
was forgiving. I would dsecribe here in writing the fash- 
ion of their punishment; but for very horror my pen 
doth refuse to indite the same. 

Let us now leave these poor recluses, which I do verily 
believe, once they be shut up in their nunneries, do endure 
no small hardship. So a Spanish lady one time, seeing 
them setting to the religious life a very fair and honour- 
able damsel, did thus exclaim: tristezilla, y en que 
pecasteis, que tan presto oienes a penitencia, y seis metida 
en sepultura viva! "Poor creature, what so mighty sin 
have you done, that you be so soon brought to penitence 
and thus buried alive!" And seeing the nuns offering her 
every complaisance, compliment and welcome, she said: 
que todo le hedia, hasta el encienso de la yglesia, "that 
it all stank in her nostrils, to the very incense in the 

Now as to these vows of virginity, Heliogabalus did 
promulgate a law to the effect that no Roman maid, 
not even a Vestal virgin, was bound to perpetual vir- 
ginity, saying how that the female sex was over weak 
for women to be bound to a pact they could never be 
sure of keeping. And for this reason they that have 
founded hospitals for the nourishing, rescuing and marry- 
ing poor girls, have done a very charitable work, no less 




to enable these to taste the sweet fruit of marriage than 
to turn them from naughtiness. So Panurge in Rabelais, 
did give much wealth of his to make such marriages, and 
especially in the case of old and ugly women, for with 
such was need of more expenditure of money than for the 
pretty ones. 

One question there is I would fain have resolved in all 
sincerity and without concealment of any kind by some 
good lady that hath made the journey, to wit, when 
women be married a second time, how they be affected 
toward the memory of their first husband. 'Tis a general 
maxim hereanent, that later friendships and enmities do 
always make the earlier ones forgot; in like wise will a 
second marriage bury the thought of the first. As to 
this I will now give a diverting example, though from an 
humble source, not that it should therefore be void of 
authority and to be rejected, if it be as they say, that 
albeit in an obscure and common quarter, yet may wisdom 
and good intelligence be hid there. A great lady of Poi- 
tou one day asking a peasant woman, a tenant of hers, 
how many husbands she had had, and how she found 
them, the latter, bobbing her little country curtsey, did 
coolly answer: "I'll tell you, Madam; I've had two hus- 
bands, praise the Lord! One was called Guillaume, he 
was the first; and the second was called Collas. Guil- 
laume was a good man, easy in his circumstances, and did 
treat me very well; but there, God have good mercy on 
Collas' soul, for Collas did his duty right well by me." 
But she did actually say the word straight out without 
any glozing or disguise such as I have thrown over it. 
Prithee, consider how the naughty wench did pray God 
for the dead man which was so good a mate and so lusty, 





and for what benefit, to wit that he had covered her so 
doughtily; but of the first, never a word of the sort. I 
should suppose many dames that do wed a second time 
and a third do the same ; for after all this is their chief est 
reason for marrying again, and he that doth play this 
game the best, is best loved. Indeed they do always 
imagine the second husband must need be a fierce per- 
former, though very oft they be sore deceived, not find- 
ing in the shop the goods they did there think to find. Or 
else, if there be some provision, 'tis oft so puny, wasted 
and worn, so slack, battered, drooping and dilapidated, 
they do repent them ever they invested their money in the 
bargain. Of this myself have seen many examples, that 
I had rather not adduce. 

We read in Plutarch how Cleomenes, having wedded the 
fair Agiatis, wife of Agis, after the death of the latter, 
did grow fondly enamoured of the same by reason of her 
surpassing beauty. He did not fail to note the great 
sadness she lay under for her first husband's loss; and 
felt so great compassion for her, as that he made no 
grievance of the love she still bare her former husband, 
and the affectionate memory she did cherish of him. In 
fact, himself would often turn the discourse to her earlier 
life, asking her facts and details as to the pleasures that 
had erstwhile passed betwixt them twain. He had her not 
for long however, for she soon died, to his extreme sor- 
row. 'Tis a thing not a few worthy husbands do in the 
case of fair widows they have married. 

But 'tis time now surely, methinks, to be making an 
end, if ever end is to be made. 

Other ladies there be which declare they do much better 
love their second husbands than their first. "For as to 



our first husbands," some of these have told me, "these 
we do more often than not take at the orders of our 
King or the Queen our mistress, or at the command of 
our fathers, mothers, kinsmen, or guardians, not by our 
own unbiassed wish. On the other hand, once widowed 
and thus free and emancipated, we do exercise such choice 
as seemeth us good, and take new mates solely for our 
own good will and pleasure, for delight of love and the 
satisfaction of our heart's desire." Of a surety there 
would seem to be good reason here, were it not that very 
oft, as the old-time proverb saith, "Love that begins 
with a ring, oft ends with a halter." So every day do 
we see instances and examples where women thinking to 
be well treated of their husbands, the which they have in 
some cases rescued from justice and the gibbet, from 
poverty and misery and the hangman, and saved alive, 
have been sore beaten, bullied, cruelly entreated and often 
done to death of the same, a just punishment of heaven 
for their base ingratitude toward their former husbands, 
that were only too good to them, and of whom they had 
never a good word to say. 

These were in no way like one I have heard tell of, 
who the first night of her marriage, when now her hus- 
band was beginning his assault, did start sobbing and 
sighing very sore, so that at one and the same time she 
was in two quite opposite states, cold and hot, winter and 
summer, both at once. Her husband asking her what 
cause she had to be so sad, and if he were not doing his 
devoir well, "Alas ! too well, good sir !" she made answer ; 
"but I am thinking of mine other husband, which did so 
earnestly pray me again and again never to marry afresh 
after his death, but to bear in mind and have compas- 




>w\m^>9Mm&wj i &Jw^ 

sion on his young children. Alackaday! I see plainly I 
shall have the like ado with you. Woe's me! what shall 
I do? I do think, an if he can see me from the place he 
now is in, he will be cursing me finely." What an idea, 
never to have thought on this afore, nor to have felt re- 
morse but when 'twas all too late! But the husband did 
soon appease her, and expel this fancy by the best method 
possible; then next morning throwing wide the chamber 
window, he did cast forth all memory of the former hus- 
band. For is there not an old proverb which saith, "A 
woman that burieth one husband, will think little of bury- 
ing another," and another, "There's more grimace than 
grief, when a woman loseth her husband." 

I knew another widow, a great lady, which was quite 
the opposite of the last, and did not weep one whit the 
first night. For then, and the second to boot, she did 
go so lustily to work with her second husband as that 
they did break down and burst the bedstead, and this 
albeit she had a kind of cancer on one breast. Yet not- 
withstanding her affliction, she did miss never a point of 
amorous delight; and often afterward would divert him 
with tales of the folly and ineptitude of her former mate. 
And truly, by what I have heard sundry of either sex 
tell me, the very last thing a second husband doth desire 
of his wife is to be entertained with the merits and worth 
of her first, as though jealous of the poor departed wight, 
who would like naught so well as to return to earth 
again; but as for abuse of him, as much of that as ever 
you please! Natheless there be not a few that will ask 
their wives about their former lords, as did Cleomenes; 
but this they do, as feeling themselves to be strong and 
vigorous; and so delighting to institute comparisons, do 



cross-question them concerning the other's sturdiness and 
vigour in these sweet encounters. In like wise have I 
heard of some which to put their bedfellows in better case, 
do lead them to think their former mates were prentice 
hands compared with them, a device that doth oft times 
answer their purpose well. Others again will say just 
the opposite, and declare their first husbands were per- 
fect giants, so as to spur on their new mates to work 
like very pack mules. 


JIDOWS of the sort just described would be in 
good case in the island of Chios, the fairest, 
sweetest and most pleasant of the Levant, 
formerly possessed by the Genoese, but now 
for five and thirty years usurped by the Turks, a crying 
shame and loss for Christendom. Now in this isle, as I 
am informed of sundry Genoese traders, 'tis the custom 
that every woman desiring to continue a widow, without 
any intent to marry again, is constrained to pay to the 
Seigneurie of the island a certain fixed sum of money, 
which they call argomoniatiquo, which is the same as say- 
ing (with all respect to the ladies), an idle spot is useless. 
So likewise at Sparta, as Plutarch saith in his Life of 
Lysander, was a fine established by law against such as 
would not marry, or did marry over late, or ill. To re- 
turn to Scio (Chios), I have enquired of certain natives 
of that island, what might be the aim and object of the 
said custom, which told me 'twas to the end the isle might 
always be well peopled. I can vouch for this, that our 
land of France will surely never be left desert or infertile 





by fault of our widows' not marrying again; for I ween 
there be more which do re-marry than not, and will pay 
never a doit of tribute for idle and useless females. And 
if not by marriage, at any rate in other ways, these 
Chiotes do make that same organ work and fructify, as 
I will presently show. 'Tis well too for our maids of 
France they need not to pay the tax their sisters of Chios 
be liable to; for these, whether in country or town, if 
they do come to lose their maidenhead before marriage, 
and be fain after to continue the trade, be bound to pay 
once for all a ducat (and surely 'tis a good bargain to 
compound for all their life after at this price) to the 
Captain of the Night Watch, so as they may pursue their 
business as they please, without let or hindrance. And 
herein doth lie the chiefest and most certain profit this 
worthy Captain doth come by in his office. 

These dames and damsels of this Isle be much different 
from those of olden days in the same land, which, by 
what Plutarch saith in his Opuscula, were so chaste for 
seven hundred years, that never a case was remembered 
where a married woman had done adultery, or a maid 
had been deflowered unwed. A miracle! 'twill be said, a 
mythic tale worthy of old Homer! At any rate be sure 
they be much other nowadays ! 

Never was a time when the Greeks had not always some 
device or other making for wantonness. So in old times 
we read of a custom in the isle of Cyprus, which 'tis said 
the kindly goddess Venus, the patroness of that land, did 
introduce. This was that the maids of that island should 
go forth and wander along the banks, shores and cliffs 
of the sea, for to earn their marriage portions by the 
generous giving of their bodies to mariners, sailors and 


. 4 . . ... 4 .......... 4 . . 4 A 


seafarers along that coast. These would put in to shore 
on purpose, very often indeed turning aside from their 
straight course by compass to land there; and so taking 
their pleasant refreshment with them, would pay hand- 
somely, and presently hie them away again to sea, for 
their part only too sorry to leave such good entertain- 
ment behind. Thus would these fair maids win their 
marriage dowers, some more, some less, some high, some 
low, some grand, some lowly, according to the beauty, 
gifts and carnal attractions of each damsel. 

Nowadays 'tis different. No maids in any Christian 
nation do thus go wandering forth, to expose them to 
wind and rain, cold and heat, sun and moon, and so win 
their dower, for that the task is too laborious for their 
delicate and tender skins and white complexions. Rather 
do they have their lovers come to them under rich pa- 
vilions and gorgeous hangings, and do there draw their 
amorous profit from their paramours, without ever a 
tax to pay. I speak not now of the courtesans of Rome, 
who do pay tax, but of women of higher place than 
they. In fact for the most part for such damsels their 
fathers, mothers and brothers, be not at much pains to 
gather money for their portion on marriage; but on the 
contrary many of them be found able to give handsomely 
to their kinsfolk, and advance the same in goods and 
offices, ranks and dignities, as myself have seen in many 

For this cause did Lycurgus ordain in his Laws that 
virgins should be wedded without money dowry, to the 
end men might marry them for their merits, and not from 
greed. But, what kind of virtue was it ? Why ! on their 
solemn feast-days the Spartan maids were used to sing 




and dance in public stark naked with the lads, and even 
wrestle in the open market-place, the which however was 
done in all honesty and good faith, so History saith. But 
what sort of honesty and purity was this, we may well 
ask, to look on at these pretty maids so performing pub- 
licly? Honesty was it never a whit, but pleasure in the 
sight of them, and especially of their bodily movements 
and dancing postures, and above all in their wrestling; 
and chiefest of all when they came to fall one atop of the 
other, as they say in Latin, Ula sub, ille super; ille sub et 
Ilia super, "she underneath, he atop ; he underneath, she 
atop." You will never persuade me, 'twas all honesty 
and purity herein with these Spartan maidens. I ween 
there is never chastity so chaste that would not have been 
shaken thereby, or that, so making in public and by day 
these feint assaults, they did not presently in privity and 
by night and on assignation proceed to greater combats 
and night-attacks. And no doubt all this might well be 
done, seeing how the said Lycurgus did suffer such men 
as were handsome and well grown to borrow other citi- 
zens' wives to sow seed therein as in a good and fruitful 
soil. So was it in no wise blameworthy for an old out- 
wearied husband to lend his young and beautiful wife to 
some gallant youth he did choose therefor. Nay! the 
lawgiver did pronounce it permissible for the wife her- 
self to choose for to help her procreation the next kins- 
man of her husband, then an if he pleased her fancy, to 
couple with him, to the end the children they might en- 
gender should at least be of the blood and race of the 
husband. Indeed there is some sense in the practice, and 
had not the Jews likewise the same law of license betwixt 
sister-in-law and brother-in-law? On the other hand our 




Christian law hath reformed all this, albeit our Holy 
Father hath in divers cases granted dispensations founded 
on divers reasons. In Spain 'tis a practice much adopted, 
but never without dispensation. 

Well ! to say something more, and as soberly as we may, 
of some other sorts of widows, and then an end. 

One sort there is, widows which do absolutely refuse 
to marry again, hating wedlock like the plague. So one, 
a lady of a great house and a witty woman withal, when 
that I asked her if she were not minded to make her vow 
once again to the god Hymen, did reply: "Tell me this, 
by'r lady ; suppose a galley-slave or captive to have tug- 
ged years long at the oar, tied to the chain, and at last 
to have got back his freedom, would he not be a fool and 
a very imbecile, an if he did not hie him away with a good 
heart, determined never more to be subject to the orders 
of a savage corsair? So I, after being in slavery to an 
husband, an if I should take a fresh master, what should 
I deserve to get, prithee, since without resorting to that 
extreme, and with no risk at all, I can have the best of 
good times?" Another great lady, and a kinswoman of 
mine own, on my asking her if she had no wish to wed 
again, replied : "Never a bit, coz, but only to bed again," 
playing on the words wed and bed, and signifying she 
would be glad enough to give herself some treat, but 
without intervention of any second husband, according 
to the old proverb which saith, "A safer fling unwed than 
wed." Another saying hath it, that women be always 
good hostesses, in love as elsewhere; and a right saying 
'tis, for they be mistresses of the situation, and queens 
wherever they be, that is the pretty ones be so. 

I have heard tell of another, which was asked of a 



gentleman which was fain to try his ground as a suitor 
for her hand, an if she would not like an husband. "Nay ! 
sir,* 5 she answered, "never talk to me of an husband, I'll 
have no more of them ; but for a lover, I'm not so sure." 
"Then, Madame, prithee, let me be that lover, since hus- 
band I may not be." Her reply was, "Court me well, 
and persevere ; mayhap you will succeed." 

A fair and honourable widow lady, of some thirty sum- 
mers, one day wishing to break a jest with an honourable 
gentleman, or to tell truth, to provoke him to love-making, 
and having as she was about to mount her horse caught 
the front of her mantle on something and torn it some- 
what in detaching it, taking it up said to him: "Look 
you, what you have done, so and so" (accosting him by 
his name) ; "you have ripped my front." 

"I should be right sorry to hurt it, Madam; 'tis too 
sweet and pretty for that." 

"Why! what know you of it?" she replied; "you have 
never seen it." 

"What! can you deny," retorted the other, "that I 
have seen it an hundred times over, when you were a little 

"Ah! but," said she, "I was then but a stripling, and 
knew not yet what was what." 

"Still, I suppose 'tis yet in the same place as of old, 
and hath not changed position. I ween I could even now 
find it in the same spot." 

"Oh, yes! 'tis there still, albeit mine husband hath 
rolled it and turned it about, more than ever did Diogenes 
with his tub." 

"Yes! and nowadays how doth it do without move- 




" 'Tis for all the world like a clock that is left un- 

"Then take you heed, lest that befall you that doth 
happen to clocks when they be not wound up, and continue 
so for long; their springs do rust by lapse of time, and 
they be good for naught after." 

" 'Tis not a fair comparison," said she, "for that the 
springs of the clock you mean be not liable to rust at 
all, but keep in good order, wound or unwound, always 
ready to be set a-going at any time." 

"Please God," cried the gentleman, "whenas the time 
for winding come, I might be the watchmaker to wind it 

"Well, well!" returned the lady, "when that day and 
festive hour shall arrive, we will not be idle, but will do 
a right good day's work. So God guard from ill him I 
love not as well as you." 

After this keen and heart pricking interchange of wit, 
the lady did mount her horse, after kissing the gentleman 
with much good-will, adding as she rode away, "Good- 
bye, till we meet again, and enjoy our little treat!" 

But alas! as ill fate would have it, the fair lady did 
die within six weeks whereat her lover did well nigh die of 
chagrin. For these enticing words, with others she had 
said afore, had so heartened him with good hope that he 
was assured of her conquest, as indeed she was ready 
enough to be his. A malison on her untimely end, for 
verily she was one of the best and fairest dames you could 
see anywhere, and well worth a venial fault to possess, or 
even a mortal sin ! 

Another fair young widow was asked by an honourable 
gentleman if she did keep Lent, and abstain from eating 





meat, as folks do then. "No !" she said, I do not." "So 
I have observed," returned the gentleman; "I have noted 
you made no scruple, but did eat meat at that season 
just as at any other, both raw and cooked." "That was 
at the time mine husband was alive; now I am a widow, 
I have reformed and regulated my living more seemly." 
"Nay ! beware," then said the other, "of fasting so strictly, 
for it doth readily happen to such as go fasting and an- 
hungered, that anon, when the desire of meat cometh on 
them, they do find their vessels so narrow and contracted, 
as that they do thereby suffer much incommodity." 
"Nay ! that vessel of my body," said the lady, "that you 
mean, is by no means so narrow or hunger-pinched, but 
that, when mine appetite shall revive, I may not afford 
it good and sufficient refreshment." 

I knew another great lady, which all through her un- 
married and married life was in all men's mouths by 
reason of her exceeding stoutness. Afterward she came 
to lose her husband, and did mourn him with so extreme 
a sorrow that she grew as dry as wood. 1 Yet did she 
never cease to indulge her in the joys of former days, 
even going so far as to borrow the aid of a certain Sec- 
retary she had, and of other such to boot, and even of her 
cook, so 'twas reported. For all that, she did not win 
back her flesh, albeit the said cook, who was all fat and 
greasy, ought surely, I ween, to have made her fat. So 
she went on, taking now one, now another of her serving- 
men, all the while playing the part of the most prudish 
and virtuous dame in all the Court, with pious phrases 
ever on her lips, and naught but scandal against all other 
women, and never a word of good for any of them. Of 
like sort was that noble woman of Dauphin^, in the Cent 



NouveUes of the Queen of Navarre, which was found lying 
flat on the grass with her groom or muleteer by a certain 
gentleman, that was ready to die of love for her but this 
sight did quick cure his love sickness for him. 

I have heard speak of a very beautiful woman at 
Naples, which had the repute of going in like manner 
with a Moor, the ugliest fellow in the world, who was 
her slave and groom, but something made her love him. 


HAVE read in an old Romance, Jehan de 
Saintre, printed in black letter, how the late 
King John of France did rear the hero Jehan 
as his page. Now by custom of former days, 
great folk were used to send their pages to carry mes- 
sages, as is done likewise to-day. But then they were 
wont to go everywhere, and up and down the country- 
side, a-horseback; I have even heard our fathers say 
they were not seldom sent on minor embassies, for by 
despatching a page and horse and a broad piece, the 
thing was done and so much expense well spared. This 
same little Jehan de Saintre (for so he did long continue 
to be called) was very much loved of his master the King, 
for that he was full of wit and intelligence, and was often 
sent to carry trifling messages to his sister, who was 
at the time a widow, though the book saith not whose 
widow. This great lady did fall enamoured of the lad, 
after he had been several times on errands to her; so one 
day, finding a good opportunity and no one nigh, she did 
question him, asking him an if he did not love some lady 
or other at Court, and which of them all liked him best. 





This is a way a great many ladies have, whenas they be 
fain to score the first point and deliver their first attack 
on one they fancy, as myself have seen done. Well ! little 
Jehan de Saintre, who had never so much as dreamed of 
love, told her, "No ! not yet," going on to describe several 
Court ladies, and what he thought of them. Then did 
she hold forth to him on the beauties and delights of 
love, but he only answered, "Nay! I care less than ever 
for't." For in those old days, even as to-day, some of 
our greatest ladies were slaves to love and much subject 
to detraction; for indeed folk so adroit as they have 
grown since, and 'twas only the cleverest that had the 
good fortune to impose on their husbands and pass as 
good women by virtue of their hypocrisies and little 
wiles. The lady then, seeing the lad to be well-favoured, 
goes on to tell him how she would give him a mistress 
that would love him well, provided he was a true lover to 
her, making him promise under pain of instant shame 
and disgrace, that above all he should be sure and secret. 
Eventually she did make her avowal to him, and tell him 
herself would fain be his lady and darling, for in those 
days the word mistress was not as yet in vogue. At this 
the young page was sore astonished, thinking she did but 
make a mock of him, or wished to trap him and get him 
a whipping. 

However she did very soon show so many unequivocal 
signs of fire and heat of love and such tender familiarities, 
as that he perceived 'twas no mockery; while she kept 
on telling him she would train and form him and make 
him a great man. The end was their loves and mutual 
joys did last a long while, during his pagehood and after 
he was no more a page, till at the last he had to depart 




on a distant journey, when she did change him for a 
great, fat Abbe. This is the tale we find in the Nouvelles 
du monde advantureux, writ by a gentleman of the cham- 
ber to the Queen of Navarre, wherein we see the Abbe 
put an affront on the said Jehan de Saintre, that was so 
brave and valiant; yet did he in no long while pay the 
worthy Abbe back in good coin and three times over. 
Tis an excellent Tale, and cometh from the book I have 

Here we see how 'tis not only of to-day that fair ladies 
do love pages, above all when they be gay and speckled 
like partridges. And verily, what creatures women be! 
that be ready enough to have lovers galore, but husbands 
not! This they do for the love of freedom, which is in- 
deed a noble thing. For they think, when once they be 
out of their husband's rule, they are in Paradise, having 
their fine dower and spending it themselves, managing 
all the household, and handling the coin. All goeth 
through their hands ; and instead of being servants, they 
be now mistresses, and do make free choice of their 
pleasures, and such as do best minister to the same. 

Others again there be, which do surely hate the notion 
of making a second marriage, from distaste to lose their 
rank and dignity, their goods, riches and honours, their 
soft and luxurious living, and for this cause do restrain 
their passions. So have I known and heard speak of not 
a few great dames and Princesses, which from mere dread 
of their failing to find again the grandeurs of their first 
match, and so losing rank, would never marry again. 
Not that they did cease therefor one whit to follow after 
love and turn the same to their joy and delight, yet 
all the while never losing their rank and dignity, their 




stools of state and honourable seats in Queens' chambers 
and elsewhere. Lucky women, to enjoy their grandeur 
and mount high, yet abase them low, at one and the 
same time! But to say a word of reproach or remon- 
strance to them, never dream no such thing! Else no 
end would there be of anger and annoyance, denials and 
protestations, contradiction and revenge. 

I have heard a tale told of a widow lady, and indeed I 
knew her myself, which had long enjoyed the love of an 
honourable gentleman, under pretext she would marry 
him; but he did in no wise make himself obtrusive. A 
great Princess, the lady's mistress, was for reproaching 
her for her conduct. But she, wily and corrupt, did 
answer her: "Nay! Madam, but should it be denied us 
to love with an honourable love? surely that were too 
cruel." Only God knoweth, this love she called honour- 
able, was really a most lecherous passion. And verily all 
loves be so ; they be born all pure, chaste and honourable, 
but anon do lose their maidenhead, so to speak, and by 
magic influence of some philosopher's stone, be trans- 
formed into base metal, and grow dishonourable and 

The late M. de Bussy, who was one of the wittiest 
talkers of his time, and no less pleasing as a story-teller, 
one day at Court seeing a great lady, a widow, and of 
ripe years, who did still persist in her amorous doings, 
did exclaim: "What! dotfc this hackney yet frequent the 
stallion?" The word was repeated to the lady, which 
did vow mortal kate against the offender. On M. de 
Bussy's learning this, "Well, well !" he said, "I know hour 
to make my peace, and put this all right. Prithee, go 
tell her I said not so, but that this is what I really said, 



'Doth this filly 1 yet go to be mounted? For sure I am 
she is not wroth because I take her for a light o* love, 
but for an old woman; and when she hears I called her 
filly, that is to say a young mare, she will suppose I do 
still esteem her a young woman.' " And so it was ; for the 
lady, on hearing this change and improvement in the 
wording, did relax her anger and made it up with M. 
de Bussy ; whereat we did alt have a good laugh. Yet for 
all she might do, she was always deemed an old, half- 
foundered jade, that aged as she was, still went whinnying 
after the male. 

This last was quite unlike another lady I have also 
heard tell of, who having been a merry wench in her 
earlier days, but getting well on in years, did set her to 
serve God with fast and prayer. An honourable gentle- 
man remonstrating and asking her wherefore she did 
make such long vigils at Church and such severe fasts 
at table, and if it were not to vanquish and deaden the 
stings of the flesh, "Alas!" said she, "these be all over 
and done with for me." These words she did pronounce 
as piteously as ever spake Milo of Croton, that strong 
and stalwart wrestler of old, (I have told the tale else- 
where, methinks), who having one day gone down into 
the arena, or wrestlers' ring, but only for to view the 
game, for he was now grown very old, one of the band 
coming up to him did ask, an if he would not try yet a 
fall of the old sort. But he, baring his arms and right 
sadly turning back his sleeves, said only, gazing the 
while at his muscles and sinews: "Alas! they be dead 

Another like incident did happen to a gentleman I 
wot of, similar to the tale I have just told of M. de Bussy. 



Coming to Court, after an absence of six months, he 
there beheld a lady which was used to attend the acad- 
emy, lately introduced at Court by the late King. "Why !" 
saith he, "doth the academy then still exist? I was told 
it had been abolished." "Can you doubt," a courtier 
answered him, "her attendance? Why! her master is 
teaching her philosophy, which doth speak and treat of 
perpetual motion." And in good sooth, for all the beat- 
ing of brains these same philosophers do undergo, to 
discover perpetual motion, yet is there none more surely 
so than the motion Venus doth teach in her school. 

A lady of the great world did give even a better answer 
of another, whose beauty they were extolling highly, only 
that her eyes did ever remain motionless, she never turn- 
ing the same one way or the other. "We must suppose," 
she said, "all her care doth go to move other portions 
of her body, and so hath she none to spare for her 

However, an if I would put down in writing all the 
witty words and good stories I know, to fill out my mat- 
ter, I should never get me done. And so, seeing I have 
other subjects to attack, I will desist, and finish with this 
saying of Boccaccio, already cited above, namely, that 
women, maids, wives and widows alike, at least the most 
part of them, be one and all inclined to love. I have no 
thought to speak of common folk, whether in country 
or in town, for such was never mine intention in writing, 
but only of well-born persons, in whose service my pen 
is aye ready to run nimbly. But for mine own part, if I 
were asked my true opinion, I should say emphatically 
there is naught like married women, all risk and peril on 
their husbands' side apart, for to win good enjoyment 




of love withal, and to taste quick the very essence of its 
delights. The fact is their husbands do heat them so, 
they be like a furnace, continually poked and stirred, that 
asks naught but fuel, water and wood or charcoal to 
keep up its heat for ever. And truly he that would have 
a good light, must always be putting more oil in the lamp. 
At the same time let him beware of a foul stroke, and 
those ambushes of jealous husbands wherein the wiliest 
be oft times caught ! 

Yet is a man bound to go as circumspectly as he may, 
and as boldly to boot, and do like the great King Henri, 
who was much devoted to love, but at the same time 
exceeding respectful toward ladies, and discreet, and for 
these reasons much loved and well received of them. Now 
whenever it fell out that this monarch was changing night 
quarters and going to sleep in the bed of a new mistress, 
which expecting him, he would never go thither (as I 
learn on very good authority) but by the secret galleries 
of Saint-Germain, Blois or Fontainebleau, and the little 
stealthy back-stairs, recesses and garrets of his castles. 
First went his favourite valet of the chamber, Griffon 
by name, which did carry his boar-spear before him along 
with the torch, and the King next, his great cloak held 
before his face or else his night-gown, and his sword 
under his arm. Presently, being to bed with the lady, 
he would aye have his spear and sword put by the bed's- 
head, the door well shut, and Griffon guarding it, watch- 
ing and sleeping by turns. Now I leave it to you, an if a 
great King did give such heed to his safety (for indeed 
there have been some caught, both kings and great 
princes, for instance the Due de Fleurance Alexandre 
in our day), what smaller folks should do, following the 




example of this powerful monarch. Yet there are to be 
found proud souls which do disdain all precaution; and 
of a truth they be often trapped for their pains. 

I have heard a tale related of King Francis, how hav- 
ing a fair lady as mistress, a connection that had long 
subsisted betwixt them, and going one day unexpectedly 
to see the said lady, and to sleep with her at an unusual 
hour, 'gan knock loudly on the door, as he had both 
right and might to do, being the master. She, who was at 
the moment in company of the Sieur de Bonnivet, durst 
not give the reply usual with the Roman courtesans under 
like circumstances, Non si puo, la signora accompag- 
nata, "You cannot come in; Madam has company with 
her." In this case the only thing to do was to devise 
quick where her gallant could be most securely hid. By 
good luck 'twas summer time, so they had put an heap of 
branches and leaves in the fire-place, as the custom is in 
France. Accordingly she did counsel and advise him to 
make at once for the fire-place, and there hide him among 
the leafage, all in his shirt as he was, and 'twas a for- 
tunate thing for him it was not winter. After the King 
had done his business with the lady, he was fain to make 
water; so getting up from the bed, he went to the fire- 
place to do so, for lack of other convenience. And so 
sore did he want to, that he did drown the poor lover 
worse than if a bucket of water had been emptied over 
him, for he did water him thoroughly, as with a garden 
watering-pot, all round and about, and even over the 
face, eyes, nose, mouth and everywhere; albeit by tight 
shut lips he may have escaped all but a drop or so in his 
chops. I leave you to fancy what a sorry state the 
poor gentleman was in, for he durst not move, and what a 




picture of patience and grim endurance he did present! 
The King having done, withdrew, and bidding his mistress 
farewell, left the chamber. The lady had the door im- 
mediately shut behind him, and calling her lover into 
her, did warm the poor man, giving him a clean shift to 
put on. Nor was it without some fun and laughter, after 
the fright they had had ; for an if he had been discovered, 
both he and she had been in very serious peril. 

'Twas the same lady, which being deep in love with 
this M. de Bonnivet, and desiring to convince the King 
of the contrary, for that he had conceived some touch of 
jealousy on the subject, would say thus to him: "Oh! but 
he's diverting, that Sieur de Bonnivet, who thinks himself 
so handsome! and the more I tell him he is a pretty 
fellow, the more he doth believe it. 'Tis my great pas- 
time, making fun of the man, for he's really witty and 
ready-tongued, and no one can help laughing in his com- 
pany, such clever retorts doth he make." By these words 
she was for persuading the King that her common dis- 
course with Bonnivet had naught to do with love and 
alliance, or playing his Majesty false in any wise. How 
many fair dames there be which do practise the like wiles, 
and to cloak the intrigues they are pursuing with some 
lover, do speak ill of him, and make fun of him before 
the world, though in private they soon drop this fine 
pretense; and this is what they call cunning and con- 
trivance in love. 

I knew a very great lady, who one day seeing her 
daughter, which was one of the fairest of women, grieving 
for the love of a certain gentleman, with whom her 
brother was sore angered, did say this to her amongst 
other things : "Nay ! my child, never love that man. His 





manners and form be so bad, and he's such an ugly 
fellow. He's for all the world like a village pastry cook !" 
At this the daughter burst out a-laughing, making merry 
at his expense and applauding her mother's description, 
allowing his likeness to a pastry-cook, red cap and all. 
For all that, she had her way; but some while after, in 
another six months that is, she did leave him for another 

I have known not a few ladies which had no words 
bad enough to cast at women that loved inferiors, their 
secretaries, serving-men and the like low-born persons, 
declaring publicly they did loathe such intrigues worse 
than poison. Yet would these very same ladies be giving 
themselves up to these base pleasures as much as any. 
Such be the cunning ways of women; before the world 
they do show fierce indignation against these offenders, 
and do threaten and abuse them ; but all the while behind 
backs they do readily enough indulge the same vice them- 
selves. So full of wiles are they! for as the Spanish 
proverb saith, Mucho sabe la zorra; mas sabe mas la 
dama enamorada, "The fox knoweth much, but a woman 
in love knoweth more." 


JOWEVER, for all this fair lady of the tale 
told above did to lull King Francis* anxiety, 
yet did she not drive forth every grain of 
suspicion from out his head, as I have reason 
to know. I do remember me how once, making a visit 
to Chambord to see the castle, an old porter that was 
there, who had been body servant to King Francis, did 





receive me very obligingly. For in his earlier days he 
had known some of my people both at Court and in the 
field, and was of his own wish anxious to show me every- 
thing. So having led me to the King's bed-chamber, he 
did show me a phrase of writing by the side of the window 
on the left hand. "Look, Sir!" he cried, "read yonder 
words. If you have never seen the hand-writing of the 
King, mine old master, there it is." And reading it, we 
found this phrase, "Toute femme varie," writ there in 
large letters. I had with me a very honourable and very 
able gentleman of Perigord, my friend, by name M. des 
Roches, to whom I turned and said quickly : " 'Tis to be 
supposed, some of the ladies he did love best, and of 
whose fidelity he was most assured, had been found of him 
to vary and play him false. Doubtless he had discovered 
some change in them that was scarce to his liking, and 
so, in despite, did write these words." The porter over- 
hearing us, put in: "Why! surely, surely! make no mis- 
take, for of all the fair dames I have seen and known, 
never a one but did cry off on a false scent worse than 
ever his hunting pack did in chasing the stag; yet 'twas 
with a very subdued voice, for an if he had noted it, 
he would have brought 'em to the scent again pretty 

They were, 'twould seem, of those women, which can 
never be content with either their husbands or their 
lovers, Kings though they be, and Princes and great 
Lords; but must be ever chopping and changing. Such 
this good King had found them by experience to be, 
having himself first debauched the same and taken them 
from the charge of their husbands or their mothers, 
tempting them from their maiden or widowed estate. 




I have both known and heard speak of a lady, so fondly 
loved of her Prince, as that for the mighty affection he 
bare her, he did plunge her to the neck in all sorts of 
favours, benefits and honours, and never another woman 
was to be compared with her for good fortune. Natheless 
was she so enamoured of a certain Lord, she would never 
quit him. Then whenas he would remonstrate and de- 
clare to her how the Prince would ruin both of them, 
"Nay! 'tis all one," she would answer; "an if you leave 
me, I shall ruin myself, for to ruin you along with me. 
I had rather be called your concubine than this Prince's 
mistress." Here you have woman's caprice surely, and 
wanton naughtiness to boot ! Another very great lady 
I have known, a widow, did much the same; for albeit 
she was all but adored of a very great nobleman, yet 
must she needs have sundry other humbler lovers, so as 
never to lose an hour of her time or ever be idle. For 
indeed one man only cannot be always at work and afford 
enough in these matters ; and the rule of love is this, that 
a passionate woman is not for one stated time, nor yet 
for one stated person alone, nor will confine her to one 
passion, reminding me of that dame in the Cent Nou~ 
velles of the Queen of Navarre, which had three lovers 
all at once, and was so clever she did contrive to manage 
them all three most adroitly. 

The beautiful Agnes Sorel, the adored mistress of King 
Charles VII., was suspected by him of having borne a 
daughter that he thought not to be his, nor was he ever 
able to recognize her. And indeed, like mother, like 
daughter, was the word, as our Chroniclers do all agree. 
The same again did Anne Boleyn, wife of King Henry 
VIII. of England, whom he did behead for not being 





content with him, but giving herself to adultery. Yet 
had he chose her for her beauty, and did adore her fondly. 

I knew another lady which had been loved by a very 
honourable gentleman, but after some while left by him; 
and one day it happened that these twain fell to dis- 
cussing their former loves. The gentleman, who was for 
posing as a dashing blade, cried, "Ha! ha! and think 
you, you were my only mistress in those days? You will 
be much surprised to hear, I had two others all the while, 
would you not?" To this she answered on the instant, 
"You would be yet more surprised, would you not? to 
learn you were anything but mine only lover then, for I 
had actually three beside you to fall back on." Thus 
you see how a good ship will always have two or three 
anchors for to ensure its safety thoroughly. 

To conclude, love is all in all for women, and so it 
should be ! I will only add how once I found in the tablets 
of a very fair and honourable lady which did stammer a 
little Spanish, but did understand the same language well 
enough, this little maxim writ with her own hand, for I 
did recognize it quite easily: Hembra o dama sin com- 
pagnero, esperanza sin trdbajo, y navio sin timon; nunca 
pueden hazer cost que sea buena, "Man or woman with- 
out companion, hope without work, or ship without rud- 
der, will never do aught good for much." 'Tis a saying 
equally true for wife, widow and maid; neither one nor 
the other can do aught good without the company of a 
man, while the hope a lover hath of winning them is not 
by itself near so like to gain them over readily as with 
something of pains and hard work added, and some strife 
and struggle. Yet doth not either wife or widow give 
so much as a maid must, for 'tis allowed of all to be an 





easier and simpler thing to conquer and bring under one 
that hath already been conquered, subdued and over- 
thrown, than one that hath never yet been vanquished, 
and that far less toil and pains is spent in travelling a 
road already well worn and beaten than one that hath 
never been made and traced out, and for the truth 
of these two instances I do refer me to travellers and men 
of war. And so it is with maids; indeed there be even 
some so capricious as that they have always refused to 
marry, choosing rather to live ever in maidenly estate. 
But an if you ask them the reason, " J Tis so, because my 
humour is to have it so," they declare. Cybele, Juno, 
Venus, Thetis, Ceres and other heavenly goddesses, did 
all scorn this name of virgin, excepting only Pallas, 
which did spring from her father Jupiter's brain, hereby 
showing that virginity is naught but a notion conceived 
in the brain. So, ask our maids, which will never marry, 
or an if they do, do so as late as ever they can, and at 
an over ripe age, why they marry not, " 'Tis because I 
do not wish," they say; "such is my humour and my 

Several such we have seen at the Court of our Princes 
in the days of King Francis. The Queen Regent had a 
very fair and noble maid of honour, named Poupincourt, 
which did never marry, but died a maid at the age of 
sixty, as chaste as when she was born, for she was most 
discreet. La Brelandiere again died a maid and virgin at 
the ripe age of eighty, the same which was governess of 
Madame d'Angouleme as a girl. 

I knew another maid of honour of very great and ex- 
alted family, and at the time seventy years of age, which 
would never marry, albeit she was no wise averse to 



love without marriage. Some that would fain excuse her 
for that she would not marry, used to aver she was meet 
to be no husband's wife, seeing she had no affair at all. 
God knoweth the truth! but at any rate she did find a 
good enough one to have good fun elsewhere withal. A 
pretty excuse truly! 

Mademoiselle de Charansonnet, of Savoy, died at 
Tours lately, a maid, and was interred with her hat and 
her white virginal robe, very solemnly, with much pomp, 
stateliness and good company, at the age of forty-five 
or over. Nor must we doubt in her case, 'twas any defect 
which stood in the way, for she was one of the fairest, 
most honourable and most discreet ladies of the Court, 
and myself have known her to refuse very excellent and 
very high-born suitors. 

Mine own sister, Mademoiselle de Bourdeille, which is 
at Court maid of honour of the present Queen, hath in 
like wise refused very excellent offers, and hath never 
consented to marry, nor never will. So firm resolved is 
she and obstinate to live and die a maid, no matter to 
what age she may attain; and indeed so far she hath 
kept steady to her purpose, and is already well advanced 
in years. 

Mademoiselle de Certan, another of the Queen's maids 
of honour, is of the same humour, as also Mademoiselle 
de Surgieres, the most learned lady of the Court, and 
therefore known as Minerva, and not a few others. 

The Infanta of Portugal, daughter of the late Queen 
Eleanor, I have seen of the same resolved mind; and she 
did die a maid and virgin at the age of sixty or over. 
This was sure from no want of high birth, for she was 
well born in every way, nor of wealth, for she had plenty, 




and above all in France, where General Gourgues did 
manage her affairs to much advantage, nor yet of natural 
gifts, for I did see her at Lisbon, at the age of five and 
forty, a very handsome and charming woman, of good 
and graceful appearance, gentle, agreeable, and well de- 
serving an husband her match in all things, in courtesy 
and the qualities we French do most possess. I can affirm 
this, from having had the honour of speaking with this 
Princess often and familiarly. 

The late Grand Prior of Lorraine, when he did bring 
his galleys from East to West of the Mediterranean 
Sea on his voyage to Scotland, in the time of the minority 
of King Francis II., passing by Lisbon and tarrying 
there some days, did visit and see her every day. She 
did receive him most courteously and took great delight 
in his company, loading him with fine presents. Amongst 
others, she gave him a chain to suspend his cross withal, 
all of diamonds and rubies and great pearls, well and 
richly worked; and it might be worth from four to five 
thousand crowns, going thrice round his neck. I think 
it might well be worth that sum, for he could always 
pawn it for three thousand crowns, as he did one time 
in London, when we were on our way back from Scotland. 
But no sooner was he returned to France than he did 
send to get it out again, for he did love it for the sake of 
the lady, with whom he was no little captivated and taken. 
And I do believe she was no less fond of him, and would 
willingly have unloosed her maiden knot for him, that 
is by way of marriage, for she was a most discreet and 
virtuous Princess. I will say more, and that is, that 
but for the early troubles that did arise in France, into 
the which his brothers did draw him and kept him engaged 




therein, he would himself have brought his galleys back 
and returned the same road, for to visit this Princess 
again and speak of wedlock with her. And I ween he 
would in that case have hardly been shown the door, for 
he was of as good an house as she, and descended of great 
Kings no less than she, and above all was one of the 
handsomest, most agreeable, honourable and best Princes 
of Christendom. Now for his brothers, in particular the 
two eldest, for these were the oracles of the rest and 
captains of the ship, I did one day behold them and him 
conversing of the matter, the Cardinal telling them of his 
voyage and the pleasures and favours he had received at 
Lisbon. They were much in favour of his making the 
voyage once more and going back thither again, advising 
him to pursue his advantage in that quarter, as the Pope 
would at once have given him dispensation of his religious 
orders. And but for those accursed troubles I have spoke 
of, he would have gone, and in mine opinion the emprise 
had turned out to his honour and satisfaction. The said 
Princess did like him well, and spake to me of him very 
fondly, asking me as to his death, quite like a woman 
in love, a thing easily enough perceived in such circum- 
stances by a man of a little penetration. 

I have heard yet another reason alleged by a very 
clever person, I say not whether maid or wife, and she 
had mayhap had experience of the truth thereof, why 
some women be so slow to marry. They declare this 
tardiness cometh propter mollitiem, "by reason of lux- 
uriousness." Now this word molllties doth mean, they be 
so luxurious, that is to say so much lovers of their own 
selves and so careful to have tender delight and pleasure 
by themselves and in themselves, or mayhap with their 



bosom friends, after the Lesbian fashion, and do find such 
gratification in female society alone, as that they be con- 
vinced and firmly persuaded that with men they would 
never win such satisfaction. Wherefore they be content 
to go without these altogether in their joys and tooth- 
some pleasures, without ever a thought of masculine 
acquaintance or marriage. 

Maids and virgins would seem in old days at Rome 
to have been highly honoured and privileged, so much 
so that the law had no jurisdiction over them to sentence 
them to death. Hence the story we read of a Roman 
Senator in the time of the Triumvirate, which was con- 
demned to die among other victims of the Proscription, 
and not he alone, but all the offspring of his loins. So 
when a daughter of his house did appear on the scaffold, 
a very fair and lovely girl, but of unripe years and yet 
virgin, 'twas needful for the executioner to deflower her 
himself and take her maidenhead on the scaffold, and 
only then when she was so polluted, could he ply his 
knife upon her. The Emperor Tiberius did delight in 
having fair virgins thus publicly deflowered, and then put 
to death, a right villainous piece of cruelty, pardy! 

The Vestal Virgins in like manner were greatly hon- 
oured and respected, no less for their virginity than for 
their religious character; for indeed, an if they did show 
any the smallest frailty of bodily purity, they were an 
hundred times more rigorously punished than when they 
had failed to take good heed of the sacred fire, and were 
buried alive under the most pitiful and terrible circum- 
stances. J Tis writ of one Albinus, a Roman gentleman, 
that having met outside Rome some Vestals that were 
going somewhither a-foot, he did command his wife and 





children to descend from her chariot, to set them in it and 
so complete their journey. Moreover they had such 
weight and authority, as that very often they were trusted 
as umpires to make peace betwixt the Roman people and 
the Knights, when troubles did sometimes arise affecting 
the two orders. The Emperor Theodosius did expel them 
from Rome under advice of the Christians ; but in opposi- 
tion to the said Emperor the Romans did presently de- 
pute one Symmachus, to beseech him to restore them 
again, with all their wealth, incomings and privileges as 
before. These were exceedingly great, and indeed every 
day they were used to distribute so great a store of alms, 
as that neither native Roman nor stranger, coming or 
going, was ever suffered to ask an alms, so copious was 
their pious charity toward all poor folk. Yet would Theo- 
dosius never agree to bring them back again. 

They were named Vestals from the Latin word vesta, 
signifying fire, the which may well turn and twist, shoot 
and sparkle, yet doth it never cast seed, nor receive the 
same, and so 'tis with a virgin. They were bound so to 
remain virgins for thirty years, after which they might 
marry ; but few of them were fortunate in so leaving their 
first estate, just like our own nuns which have cast off 
the veil and quitted the religious habit. They kept much 
state and went very sumptuously dressed, of all which 
the poet Prudentius doth give a pleasing description, 
being apparently much in the condition of our present 
Lady Canonesses of Mons in Hainault and Reaumond in 
Lorraine, which be permitted to marry after. Moreover 
this same Prudentius doth greatly blame them because 
they were used to go abroad in the city in most magnifi- 
cent coaches, correspondingly attired, and to the Amphi- 





theatres to see the games of the Gladiators and combats 
to the death betwixt men and men, and men and wild 
beasts, as though finding much delight in seeing folk thus 
kill each other and shed blood. Wherefore he doth pray 
the Emperor to abolish these sanguinary contests and 
pitiful spectacles altogether. The Vestals at any rate 
should never behold suchlike barbarous sports; though 
indeed they might say for their part: "For lack of other 
more agreeable sports, the which other women do see and 
practise, we must needs content us with these." 

As for the estate of widows in many cases, there be 
many which do love just as soberly as these Vestals, and 
myself have known several such; but others again would 
far fainer take their joy in secret with men, and in the 
fullness of complete liberty, rather than subject to them 
in the bonds of marriage. For this reason, when we do see 
women long preserve their widowhood, 'tis best not over 
much to praise them as we might be inclined to do, till 
we do know their mode of life, and then only, according 
to what we have learned thereof, either to extol them 
most highly or scorn them. For a woman, when she is 
fain to unbend her severity, as the phrase is, is terribly 
wily, and will bring her man to a pretty market, an if he 
take not good heed. And being so full of guile, she doth 
well understand how to bewitch and bedazzle the eyes and 
wits of men in such wise they can scarce possibly recognize 
the real life they lead. For such or such an one they 
will mistake for a perfect prude and model of virtue, 
which all the while is a downright harlot, but doth play 
her game so cunningly and furtively none can ever dis- 
cover aught. 

I have known a great Lady in my time, which did 


remain a widow more than forty years, so acting all the 
while as to be esteemed the most respectable woman in 
country or Court, yet was she sotto coverto (under the 
rose) a regular, downright harlot. So featly had she 
followed the trade by the space of five and fifty years, 
as maid, wife and widow, that scarce a suspicion had she 
roused against her at the age of seventy, when she died. 
She did get full value of her privileges as a woman; one 
time, when a young widow, she fell in love with a certain 
young nobleman, and not able otherwise to get him, she 
did come one Holy Innocents' day into his bed-chamber, 
to give him the usual greetings. But the young man gave 
her these readily enough, and with something else than 
the customary instrument. She had her dose, and many 
another like it afterward. 

Another widow I have known, which did keep her wid- 
owed estate for fifty years, all the while wantoning it 
right gallantly, but always with the most prudish mod- 
esty of mien, and many lovers at divers times. At the 
last, coming to die, one she had loved for twelve long 
years, and had had a son of him in secret, of this man 
she did make so small account she disowned him com- 
pletely. Is not this a case where my word is illustrated, 
that we should never commend widows over much, unless 
we know thoroughly their life and life's end? 

But at this rate I should never end; and an end we 
must have. I am well aware sundry will tell me I have 
left out many a witty word and merry tale which might 
have still better embellished and ennobled this my subject. 
I do well believe it; but an if I had gone on so from 
now to the end of the world, I should never have made 
an end; however if any be willing to take the trouble 




to do better, I shall be under great obligation to the 

Well! dear ladies, I must e'en draw to an end; and I 
do beg you pardon me, an if I have said aught to offend 
you. 'Tis very far from my nature, whether inborn or 
gotten by education, to offend or displeasure you in 
any wise. In what I say of women, I do speak of some, 
not of all; and of these, I do use only false names and 
garbled descriptions. I do keep their identity so care- 
fully hid, none may discover it, and never a breath of 
scandal can come on them but by mere conjecture and 
vague suspicion, never by certain inference. 

I fear me 'tis only too likely I have here repeated a 
second time sundry witty sayings and diverting tales I 
have already told before in my other Discourses. Herein 
I pray such as shall be so obliging as to read all my 
works, to forgive me, seeing I make no pretence to being 
a great Writer or to possess the retentive memory need- 
ful to bear all in mind. The great Plutarch himself doth 
in his divers Works repeat several matters twice over. 
But truly, they that shall have the task of printing my 
books, will only need a good corrector to set all this 
matter right. 





P. 3: At first this discourse was the last; it is outlined in the 
manuscript 608 as follows: "Discourse on why beautiful and faithful 
women love valiant men, and why worthy men love courageous 

P. 4: Virgil, in his ^Eneid (Bk. I), makes Penthesileia appear 
only after Hector's death. For these accounts on the Amazons, con- 
sult Traiti historique ur lea Amazones, by Pierre Petit, Leyde, 1718. 

P. 6: See Boccaccio, De Claris Mulieribus. 

P. 6: yEneid, IV., 10-13. 

P. 8: A Latin work of Boccaccio in nine books. 

P. 8: Bk. IX., Chap. 3. 

P. 9: Nouvelle, 1554-1574. 

P. 9: Bandello, t. III., p. 1 (Venice, 1558). 

P. 11: The Due d'Anjou, afterwards Henri III. of France, is 
meant. He was the third son of Henri II. and Catherine de Medici, 
and was born at Fontainebleau 1551. On the death of his brother 
Charles IX. in 1574 he succeeded to the throne. Died 1689. The vic- 
tories referred to are those of Jarnac and Montcontour. 

P. 12: Ronsard, (Eworet, liv. 1, 174th sonnet. 

P. 13: "Petit-Lit" is Leith, the port of Edinburgh, on the Firth 
of Forth. The English army under Lord Grey of Wilton invaded 
Scotland in 1560, and laid siege to Leith, then occupied by the 
French. The place was stubbornly defended, but must soon have 
fallen, when envoys were sent by Francis II. from France to con- 
clude a peace. These were Monluc, Bishop of Valence, and the 




Sieur de Rendan mentioned in the text; the negotiators appointed 
to meet them on the English side were the Queen's great minister 
Cecil and Wotton, Dean of Canterbury. The French troops were 

P. 13: The little Leith. (Cf. Jean de Beaugue, Hittoire d la 
guerre d'Ecosse, reprinted by Montalembert in 1862, Bordeaux.) 

P. 13: Jacques de Savoie, Duke de Nemours, died hi 1585. 

P. 13: Charles de La Rochefoucauld, Count de Randan, was sent 
to England in 1559, where he arranged peace with Scotland. 

P. 14: An imaginary king without authority. 

P. 14: Philibert le Voyer, lord of Lignerolles and of Bellefille, 
was frequently employed as a diplomatic agent. He was in Scotland 
in 1567. He was assassinated at Bourgueil in 1571, because he was 
suspected of betraying Charles IX.'s avowal regarding Saint Bar- 

P. 15: Bran tome knew quite well that the woman the handsome 
and alluring Duke de Nemours truly loved was no other than Mme. 
de Guise, Anne cPEste, whom he later married. 

P. 15: XVIth Tale. Guillaume Gouffier, lord of Bonnivet. 

P. 16: Marguerite de Valois took Bussy d'Amboise partly be- 
cause of his reputation as a duellist. 

P. 17: Jacques de Lorge, lord of Montgomerie, captain of Fran- 
cis I.'s Scotch Guard and father of Henri II.'s involuntary murderer. 

P. 18: Claude de Clermont, Viscount de Tallard. 

P. 18: Francois de Hangest, lord of Genlis, captain of the Louvre, 
who died of hydrophobia at Strassburg in 1569. 

P. 19: It is undoubtedly Louise de Halwin, surnamed Mile, de 
Piennes the Elder, who later married Cipier of the Marcilly family. 

P. 20: It is to this feminine stimulation that King Francis I. 
alluded in the famous quatrain in the Album of Aix, which is rightly 
or wrongly attributed to him. 




^iw^tAv4Ji<yi^M!naa^ . . 

P. 20: Agnes Sorel, or Soreau, the famous mistress of Charles VII., 
was daughter of the Seigneur de St. Gerard, and was born at the 
village of Fromenteau in Touraine in 1409. From a very early age 
she was one of the maids of honour of Isabeau de Lorraine, Duchess 
of Anjou, and received every advantage of education. Her wit and 
accomplishments were no less admired than her beauty. 

She first visited the Court of France in the train of this latter 
Princess in 1431, where she was known by the name of the Demoi- 
selle de Fromenteau, and at once captivated the young King's heart. 
She appeared at Paris in the Queen's train in 1437, but was intensely 
unpopular with the citizens, who attributed the wasteful expen- 
diture of the Court and the misfortunes of the Kingdom to her. 
Whatever may be the truth of Brantdme's tale of the astrologer, 
there is no doubt as to her having exerted her influence to rouse 
the King from the listless apathy he had fallen into, and the idle, 
luxurious life he was leading in his Castle of Chinon, while the 
English were still masters of half his dominions. 

She was granted many titles and estates by her Royal lover, 
amongst others the castle of Beaute, on the Marne, whence her 
title of La Dame de Beaut6, and that of Loches, in the Abbey 
Church of which she was buried on her sudden death in 1450, and 
where her tomb existed down to 1792. 

P. 20. Charles VII., son of the mad Charles VI., born 1403, crowned 
at Poitiers 1422, but only consecrated at Reims in 1429, after the 
capture of Orleans and the victories due to Jeanne d'Arc. The 
adversary of the Burgundians and the English under the Duke of 
Bedford and Henry V. of England. Died 1461. 

P. 20: Henry V. of England, reigned, 1413-1422. 

P. 20: Bertrand du Guesclin, Constable of France, the most 
famous warrior of the XlVth Century, and one of the greatest Cap- 
tains of any age, was born about 1314 near Rennes of an ancient and 
distinguished family of Brittany. He was the great champion of 
France in the wars with the English, and the tales of his prowess 
are endless. Died 1380. 

P. 21 : Beatrix, fourth daughter of Raymond-Be>anger IV., Count 
de Provence. 

P. 22: Isabeau de Lorraine, daughter of Charles II., married 
Ren6 d' Anjou. 




P. 24: He called himself Ren6 de La Platiere, lord of Les Bordes, 
and was ensign in Field Marshal de Bourdillon's company; he was 
killed at Dreux. He was the son of Francois de La Platiere and 
Catherine Motier de La Fayette. 

P. 24: Brantdme, in his eulogy of Bussy d'Amboise, relates that 
he reprimanded that young man for his mania of killing. The woman 
whom he compares here to Angelique was Marguerite de Valois. 

P. 27: Brant&me is unquestionably referring again in this para- 
graph to Marguerite de Valois and Bussy d'Amboise. 

P. 28: Orlando furioso, canto V. 

P. 30: That is why Marguerite de Valois turned away "that big 
disgusting Viscount de Turenne." She compared him "to the empty 
clouds which look well only from without." (Divorce gatyrique.) 

P. 30: This is very likely an adventure that happened to Bran- 
tdme, and he had occasion to play the r&le of the "gentilhomme con- 

P. 32: According to Lalanne, the two gentlemen are Le Balafr6 
and Mayenne. If the "grande dame" was Marguerite, she bore 
Mayenne no grudge, whom she described as "a good companion, big 
and fat, and voluptuous like herself." 

P. 37: It is Madeleine de Saint-Nectaire or Senneterre, married 
to the lord of Miramont, Guy de Saint-Exup6ry; she supported the 
Huguenots. She defeated Montal in Auvergne, and according to 
Mezeray, killed him herself in 1574. (See Anselme, t. IV., p. 890.) 
In 1569, Mme. de Barbancon had also fought herself; she, too, was 
formerly an Italian, Ipolita Fioramonti. 

P. 39: On the large square with the tower, in the centre of Sienna. 

P. 40: Livy, Bk. XXVII., Chap. XXXVII. 

P. 42: Orlando furioso, cantos XXII. and XXV. 

P. 42: Christophe Jouvenel des Ursins, lord of La Chapelle, died 
in 1588. 

P. 42: Henri II. 





P. 44: Ipolita Fioramonti, married to Luigi di Malaspina, of the 
Padua branch; she was general of the Duke of Milan's armies. 
(Litta, Malaspina di Pavia, t. VIII., tav. xx.) 

P. 44: Famous fortified city and seaport on the Atlantic coast of 
France; 800 miles S. W. of Paris, capital of the modern Department 
of Charente-Inferieure. 

P. 45: The interview between Francois de La Noue, surnamed 
Bras-de-Fer (iron arm), and the representatives of Monsieur, Fran- 
$ois, Duke d'Alencon, took place February 21, 1573. The scene that 
Brantome describes happened Sunday, February 22. 

P. 46: What Brant6me advances here is to be found in Jacques 
de Bourbon's La grande et merveillcuse oppugnation de la noble cite 
de Rhodes, 1527. 

P. 46: The siege took place in 1536. 

P. 47: August 14, 1536. Count de Nassau besieged P6ronne at 
the head of 60,000 men ; the population defended itself with the utter- 
most energy. Marie Four, according to some, was the principal 
heroine of this famous siege ; according to others, all the honor should 
go to Mme. Catherine de Foix. (Cf. Pieces et documents relatifs au 
siege de Peronne, en 1536. Paris, 1864.) 

P. 47: The siege of Sancerre began January 3, 1573; but the rdle 
of the women was more pacific than at P6ronne; they nursed the 
wounded and fed the combatants. The energetic Joanneau governed 
the city. (Poupard, Histoire de Sancerre, 1777.) 

P. 47: Vitr was besieged by the Duke de Mercoeuer in 1589. 
This passage of Brantdme's is quoted in the Histoire de Vitre by 
Louis Dubois (1839, pp. 87-88). 

P. 47: Peronne, a small fortified town of N. W. France, on the 
Somme and in the Department of same name. It was bombarded by 
the Prussians in 1870, and the fine belfry of the XlVth Century 
destroyed. Its siege by the Comte de Nassau was in 1536. 

P. 47: Sancerre, a small town on the left bank of the Loire, mod- 
ern Department of the Cher, 27 miles from Bourges. The Huguenots 
of Sancerre endured two terrible sieges in 1569 and 1573. 




P. 47: Vitr6, a town of Brittany, modern Department Ille-et- 
Yilaine, of about 10,000 inhabitants. Retains its medieval aspect and 
town walls to the present day. 

P. 48: Collenuccio, Bk. V. 

P. 49: Boccaccio has arranged this story in his De claries muli- 
eribus, cap. CI. Vopiscus, Aurelius, XXVI-XXX, relates this fact 
more coolly. 

P. 49: Zenobia, the famous Queen of Palmyra, widow of Odena- 
thus, who had been allowed by the weak Emperor Gallienus to par- 
ticipate in the title of Augustus, and had extended his empire over a 
great part of Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt. She was eventually 
defeated by Aurelian in a great battle on the Orontes not far from 
Antioch. Palmyra was destroyed, and its inhabitants massacred; 
and Zenobia brought in chains to Rome. 

P. 49: The Emperor Aurelian was born about 212 A. D., and was 
of very humble origin. He served as a soldier in almost every part 
of the Roman Empire, and rose at last to the purple by dint of his 
prowess and address in arms, succeeding Claudius in 270 A. D. 
Almost the whole of his short reign of four years and a half was 
occupied in constant fighting. Killed in a conspiracy 275 A. D. 

P. 53: Perseus, the last King of Macedon, son of Philip V., came 
to the throne 179 B. C. His struggle with the Roman power lasted 
from 171 to 165, when he was finally defeated at the battle of 
Pydna by the consul L. Aemilius Paulus. He was carried to Rome 
and adorned the triumph of his conqueror in 167 B. C., and after- 
wards thrown into a dungeon. He was subsequently released, how- 
ever, on the intercession of Aemilius Paulus, and died hi honour- 
able captivity at Alba. 

P. 53: Maria of Austria, sister of Charles V., widow of Louis II. 
of Hungary, and ruler over the Netherlands; she died in 1558. It 
was against her rule that John of Leyden struggled. 

P. 53: Brantdme has in mind Aurelia Victorina, mother of Vic- 
torinus, according to Trebillius Pollio, Thirty Tyrants, XXX. 

P. 54: In Froissart, liv. I, chap. 174. 




P. 54: Henri I., Prince de Condd, died in 1588 (January 5), 
poisoned, says the Journal de Henri, by his wife Catherine Charlotte 
de la Tremolle. 

P. 64: Isabella of Austria, daughter of Philip II. 

P. 64: Jeanne de Flandres. 

P. 65: Jacquette de Montberon, Brantdme's sister-in-law. 

P. 55: Macchiavelli, Dell'arte della guerre, Bk. V., ii. 

P. 56: Paule de Penthievre, the second wife of Jean II. de Bour- 
gogne, Count de Nevers. 

P. 57: Richilde, Countess de Hainaut, who died in 1091. 

P. 67: Hugues Spencer, or le Dpensier. 

P. 67: Jean de Hainaut, brother of Count de Hainaut. 

P. 57: Cassel and Broqueron. 

P. 57: Edward II. of Caernarvon, King of England, was the 
fourth son of Edward I. and Queen Eleanor. Ascended the throne 
1307, and married Isabel of France the following year. A cowardly 
and worthless Prince, and the tool of scandalous favourites, such as 
Piers Gaveston. Isabel and Mortimer landed at Orwell, in Suffolk, 
in 1326, and deposed the King, who was murdered at Berkeley 
Castle, 1307. 

P. 58: Eleonore d'Acquitaine. 

P. 59: Thevet wrote the Cosmographie; Nauclerus wrote a Chro- 

P. 60: Vittoria Colonna, daughter of Fabrizio Colonna and of 
Agnes de Montefeltro, born in 1490, and affianced at the age of four 
to Ferdinand d'Avalos, who became her husband. The letter of which 
Brantdme speaks is famous; he found it in Valles, fol. 205. As for 
Mouron, he was the great Chancellor Hieronimo Morone. 

P. 61: Plutarch, Anthony, Chap. xiv. 




P. 62: Catherine Marie de Lorraine, wife of Louis de Bourbon, 
Duke De Montpensier. 

P. 62: Henri III., assassinated at Paris, 1589. 
P. 65: The other man was Mayenne. 

P. 67: Poltrot de Mer was tortured and quartered (March 18, 
1563). As regards the admiral, he was massacred August 24, 1572. 

P. 68: Philibert de Marcilly, lord of Cipierre, tutor of Charles IX. 

P. 71: On this adventure, consult the Additions au Journal de 
Henri III., note 2. 

P. 72: Louis de Correa, Hiatoria de la conquista del reino d 

P. 76: Louise de Savoie. 

P. 77: Charlotte de Roye, married to Francis III. de La Roche- 
foucauld in 1557; she died in 1559. 

P. 78: Marguerite de Foix-Candale, married to Jean Louis de 
Nogaret, Duke d'Eperon. 

P. 79: Ren6e de Bourdeille, daughter of Andre and Jacquette 
Montberon. She married, in 1579, David Bouchard, Viscount d'Aube- 
terre, who was killed in Perigord in 1593. She died in 1596. The 
daughter of whom Brant6me is about to speak was Hippolyte Bou- 
chard, who was married to Francois d'Esparbez de Lussan. The 
three daughters whom he later mentions were: Jeanne, Countess de 
Duretal, Isabelle, Baroness d'Ambleville, and Adrienne, lady of 

P. 80: Married subsequently to Francois d'Esparbez de Lusan, 
Marechal d'Aubeterre. 

P. 83: Renee de Clermont, daughter of Jacques de Clermont- 
d'Amboise, lord of Bussy; she was married to the incompetent Jean 
de Montluc-Balagny (bastard of the Bishop de Valence), created 
Field Marshal of France in 1594. 



P. 84: Gabrielle d'Estrees. 

P. 85: Popular song of the day; Musee de Janequin. See Recueil 
of Pierre Atteignant. 

P. 89: Renee Taveau, married to Baron Mortemart. Francois de 

P. 91: There is a copy of this sixth discourse in the MS. 4783, 
da fonds frangaia, at the Bibliotheque Nationale: this copy is from 
the end of the sixteenth century. 

P. 92: Charlotte de Savoie, second wife of Louis XI., daughter of 
Louis, Duke de Savoie. 

P. 92: Louis XI. is generally supposed not only to have bandied 
many such stories with all the young bloods at the Court of Philippe 
le Bon, Duke of Burgundy, where he had taken refuge when Dauphin, 
but actually to have taken pains to have a collection of them made 
and afterwards published in the same order in which we have them, 
in the Work entitled "Cent Nouvelles nouvelles," lequel en soy con- 
tient cent chapitres ou histoires, compasses ou r6c\t6e far nou- 
velles gens depui nagueres, "An Hundred New Romances, a 
Work containing in itself an hundred chapters or tales, composed 
or recited by divers folk in these last years." This is confirmed by 
the words of the original preface or notice, which would appear to 
have been written in his life-time: "And observe that throughout 
the Nouvelles, wherever 'tis said by Monseigneur, Monseigneur the 
Dauphin is meant, which hath since succeeded to the crown and is 
now King Louis XI.; for in those days he was in the Duke of 
Burgundy's country." But as it is absolutely certain this Prince 
only withdrew into Brabant at the end of the year 1456, and only 
returned to France in August 1461, it is quite impossible the Col- 
lection can have appeared in France about the year 1455, as is 
stated without sufficient consideration in the preface of the latest 
editions of this work. Two ancient editions are known, one, 
Paris 1486, folio; the other also published at Paris, by the widow 
of Johan Treperre, N. D., also folio. Besides this, two modern 
edl lions, with badly executed cuts, printed at Cologne, by Pierre 
Gaillard, 1701 and 1736 respectively, 2 vols. 8vo. 

P. 93: By Bourguignonne the King meant etrangere (foreigner). 



P. 94: See the sojourn of Charles VIII. at Lyons: Sejours d 
Charles VIII. et Louis XII. A Lyon sur le Rosne jouxte la copie de 
faicts, gestes et victoires des roys Charles VIII. et Louis XII., Lyon, 

P. 94: Louis XII. had really been a "good fellow," without men- 
tioning the laundress of the court, who was rumored to be the mother 
of Cardinal de Bucy, he had known at Genoa Thomasina Spinola, 
with whom, according to Jean d'Authon, his relations were purely 

P. 97: Francis I. forbade by the decree of December 23, 1523, that 
any farces be played at the colleges of the University of Paris 
"Wherein scandalous remarks are made about the King or the 
princes or about the people of the King's entourage." (Clairambault, 
824, fol. 8747, at the Bibilotheque Nationale.) This king maintained, 
as Brant6me says, that women are very fickle and inconstant; he 
wrote to Montmorency of his own sister Marguerite de Valois, No- 
vember 8, 1537: "We may be sure that when we wish women to stop 
they are dying to trot along; but when we wish them to go they 
refuse to budge from their place." (Clairambault, 336, fol. 6230, v.) 

P. 98: Paul Farnese, Paul III. 1468-1549. 

P. 98: The queen arrived at Nice, June 8, 1538, where the king 
and Pope Paul III. were. The ladies of whom Brantdme speaks 
should be the Queen of Navarre, Mme. de Venddme, the Duchess 
d'Etampes, the Marquess de Rothelin that beautiful Rohan of whom 
it was said that her husband would get with child and not she and 
thirty-eight gentlewomen. (Clair., 336, fol. 6549.) 

P. 98: John Stuart, Duke of Albany, grandson of James II., King 
of Scotland. He was born in France in 1482 and died in 1536. The 
anecdote that Brantome relates is connected with the journey of 
Clement VI. to Marseilles at the time of the marriage of Henri II., 
then Duke d'Or!6ans, with the niece of the pope, Catherine de Medici. 
The marriage took place at Marseilles in 1533. 

P. 100: Louise de Clermont Tallard, who married as her second 
husband the Due d'Uzes. Jean de Taix was the grand master of 

P. 107: He was called Pierre de La Mare, lord of Matha, master 



of the horse to Marguerite, sister of the king. (Bib. Nat., Cabinet 
des Titres, art. Matha.) Aimee de Mere 1 was at the court from 1560 
to 1564. Hence this adventure took place during that time. (Bib. 
Nat. ms. francais 7856, fol. 1136, v'.) 

P. 108: Provided with "bards," plate-armour used to protect a 
horse's breast and flanks. 

P. 109: This Fontaine-Guerin was in all likelihood Honorat de 
Bueil, lord of Fontaine-Guerin, gentleman of the king's bed-chamber, 
councillor of State, who died in 1590. He was a great favorite of 
Charles IX. 

P. 112: The lady in question was Francoise de Rohan, dame de 
La Garnache, if we are to believe Bayle in the Diet. Critique, p. 1317, 
2nd. ed., though there would seem to be some doubt about it. The 
"very brave and gallant Prince" was the Due de Nemours. 

P. 112: A German dance, the Facheltanz. 
P. 113: Marie de Flamin. 

P. 114: The son of this lady was Henri d'Angouleme, who killed 
Altoviti and was killed by him at Aix, and not at Marseilles, June 2, 
1586. Philippe Altoviti was the Baron of Castellane; he had married 
the beautiful Renee de Rieux-Chateauneuf. 

P. 115: Le Tigre a pamphlet by Francois Hotman directed 
against the Cardinal de Lorraine and the Duchesse de Guise, 1560. 

P. 116: Philibert de Marcilly, lord of Cipierre. 

P. 117: That pamphlet was aimed at Anne d'Este, Duchess de 
Guise, at the time of her marriage with the Due de Nemours. 

P. 119: Brant6me alludes to the hatred of the Duchess de Mont- 

P. 120: Marie de Cleves, who died during her lying-in in 1574. 
P. 120: Catherine Charlotte de La Tremolle, Princess de Cond6. 
P. 122: Not found anywhere in Brantome's extant works. 



P. 125: Du Guast or Lignerolles. However, it may refer to Bussy 

P. 126: Marie Babou de la B our dais ie re, who married Claude de 

Beauvillier Saint-Aignan in 1560. 

P. 128: Plutarch, Sylla, cap. XXX. 

P. 129: Queen Maria of Hungary, ruler of the Netherlands, and 
sister of Charles V. 

P. 129: Plutarch, Cato of Utica, cap. XXXV. 

P. 132: The personages in question are Henri III., Renee de 
Rieux-Chateauneuf, then Mme. de Castellane, and Marie de Cleves, 
wife of the Prince de Conde. 

P. 132: Louis de Cond6, who deserted Isabeau de La Tour de 
Limeuil to marry Francoise d'Orteans. The beauty of which Bran- 
tome speaks can scarcely be seen in the portrait in crayon of Isabeau 
de Limeuil who became Mme. de Sardini. 

P. 135: Mottoes were constantly used at that time. 

P. 136: Anne de Bourbon, married in 1561 to Francois de Cleves, 
Duke de Nevers and Count d'Eu. 

P. 146: The empress was Elizabeth of Portugal; the Marquis de 
Villena, M. de Villena; the Duke de Feria, Gomez Suarez de Figue- 
roa, Duke de Feria; Eleonor, the Queen of Portugal, later married 
to Francois I""; Queen Marie, the Queen of Hungary. 

P. 147: Elizabeth, daughter of Henri II. 

P. 151 : The MS. of this discourse is at the Bibliotheque Nationale 
(Ms. fr. 3273) ; it is written in a good hand of the end of the six- 
teenth century. It is dedicated to the Duke d'Alen^on. 

P. 152: Opere di G. Boccaccio, II Filicopo, Firenze, 1723, t. II., 
p. 73. 

P. 159: La Tournelle In the original. This was the name given to 
the Criminal Court of the Parliament of Paris. 




P. 161: Barbe de Cilley; she died in 1415. 


P. 166: Bran tome is undoubtedly referring to Mme. de Villequier. 

P. 172: This is again Isabeau de La Tour Limeuil. 

P. 178: See XXVth Tale in Cent Novcellet nowoellet. 

P. 188: Honor6 Castellan. 

P. 188. Baron de Vitteau was this member of the Du Prat family ; 
he killed Louis de Beranger du Guast. 

P. 190: Chicot was Henri III.'s jester who killed M. de La Roche- 
foucauld on Saint Bartholomew's Day. 

P. 194: Alberic de Rosate, under the word "Matrimonium" in his 
Dictionary reports an exactly similar instance. Barbatias has some- 
thing even more extraordinary, how a boy of seven got his nurse 
with child. 

P. 195: The Queen Mother Catherine de Medici. The author gives 
her name in his book of the Dames Illustres, where he tells the 
same story. 

P. 207: Jean de Rabodanges, who married Marie de Cleves, 
mother of Louis XII. She was reine blanche, that is, she was in 
mourning; at that time the women of the nobility wore white when 
in mourning. 

P. 207: These eighteen chevaliers, who were elevated in one 
batch, caused a good deal of gossip at the court. 

P. 214: Louis de Beranger du Guast. 

P. 216: She was thirty-five; she died three years later. 

P. 217: It is the Chateau d'Usson in Auvergne. 

P. 218: Louis de Saint-gelais-Lansac. 

P. 220: Jeanne, married to Jean, Prince of Portugal. She died 
in 1578. 




P. 225: Sbastien, died in 1578. This passage in Brantome is 
not one of the least irreverent of this hardened sceptic. 

P. 226: The portraits of Marie disclose a protruding mouth. She 
is generally represented with a cap over her forehead. This feature 
is to be found in a marked degree in Queen Eleanore; and her 
brother Charles V. also had a protruding mouth. The drooping lip 
was likewise characteristic of all the later Dukes de Bourgogne. 

P. 228: The entanglements of which Brantome speaks were: the 
revolt of the Germanats, in Spain, in 1522; of Tunis or Barbaric, 
1535; the troubles in Italy, also in 1535; the revolt in the Nether- 
lands, provoked by the taxes imposed by Maria, in 1540. M. de 
Chievres was Guillaume de Croy. 

P. 229: Folembray, the royal residence occupied by Francois let 
and later by Henri II. Henri IV. negotiated there with Mayenne 
during the Ligue. 

P. 229: Bains en Hainaut. 

P. 230: 

Claude Blosset, surnamed Torcy, lady of Fontaine Cha- 

P. 234: Christine of Denmark, daughter of Christian II., first mar- 
ried to Francesco Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan. In 1540, five years 
after her husband's death, she married Francis I. of Lorraine. Her 
con was Charles II. of Lorraine. 

P. 235: N. de La Brosse-Mailly. 

P. 235: A small plank attached to the saddle of a lady's horse, 
and serving to support the rider's feet. Superseded by the single 
stirrup and pommel. 

P. 236: Guy du Faur de Pybrac. 

P. 243: Renee, wife of Guillaume V., Duke de Baviere. 

P. 246: Blanche de Montferrat, wife of Charles ler, Duke de 
Savoie; she died in 1509. 

P. 247: Paradin, Chronique de Seaooye, III, 85. 




. . 

P. 247: The seneschal's lady of Poitou was Mmc. de Vivonne. 

P. 249: Nicolas de Lorraine- Vaudemont, father-in-law of Henri 

P. 249: Franchise d'Orleans, widow of Louis, Prince de Condi. 

P. 250: Louise, daughter of Nicolas de Lorraine- Vaudemont, mar- 
ried in 1575; she died in 1601. 

P. 252: Jean de Talleyrand, former ambassador at Rome. 

P. 256: Marguerite de Lorraine, whose second marriage was with 
Francois de Luxembourg, Duke de Piney. 

P. 256: Mayenne, Duke du Maine. 
P. 256: Aymard de Chastes. 

P. 256: Refers of course to the assassination of Henri III., by 
the monk Clement (1589). 

P. 257: Catherine de Lorraine. 

P. 273: Jean Dorat, died in 1588. Louis de Beranger du Guast. 

P. 280: Caesar Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI. 

P. 280: Thomas de Foix, lord of Lescun, brother of Mme. dc 

P. 280: Piero Strozzi, Field Marshal of France. 

P. 281: Jean de Bourdeille, brother of Brantdme. He died at 
the age of twenty-five at the siege of Hesdin. It was from him that 
the joint title of Brantome passed on to our author. 

P. 281: Henri de Clermont, Viscount de Tallard. 

P. 281: Andr6 de Soleillas, Bishop of Riez in Provence, in 1576. 
He had a mistress who was given to playing the prude, but whose 
hypocrisy did not deceive King Henri IV. That Prince, one day 



rebuking this lady for her love affairs, said her only delight was in 
le jeune et I'oraiaon, fast and prayer. 

P. 282: This widow of a Field Marshal of France was very likely 
the lady of Field Marshal de Saint-Andre 1 . She wedded as a second 
husband Geoff roi de Caumont, abbe de Clairac. She called herself 
Marguerite de Lustrac. As for Brantdme's aunt, it should be 
Philippe de Beaupoil; she married La Chasteignerie, and as a 
second husband Francois de Caumont d'Aym6. 

P. 285: Anne d'Anglure de Givry, son of Jeanne Chabot and 
Ren6 d'Anglure de Givry. Jeanne married as a second husband 
Field Marshal de La Chastre. 

P. 285: Jean du Bellay and Blanche de Tournon. 

P. 288: Odet de Coligny, Cardinal de Chastillon, married to Eliza- 
beth de Hauteville. 

P. 290: Henri II., who neglected his wife, the Queen, for the 
Duchesse de Valentinois (Diane de Poitiers), who was already quite 
an old woman and had been his father, the preceding King's, mistress. 

P. 293: About the year 400 of the Christian era, St. Jerome wit- 
nessed the woman's funeral, and he it is reports the fact mentioned 
in the text. Epist. ad Ageruchiam, De Monogamia. 

P. 293: Charles de Rochechouart. 

P. 302: Scio was taken in 1566 by the Turks. 

P. 309: It was to her that King Henri IV. said at a court ball by 
way of amusing the company, that she had used green wood and dry 
wood both. This jest he made at her expense, because the said lady 
did never spare any other woman's good name. 

P. 310: L'histoire et Plaisante cronique du Petit Jehan de Sain- 
tre, par Antoine de La Salle. Paris, 1517. 

P. 312: XLVth Tale. 

P. 316: An allusion to the affair of Jarnac, who killed La Chas- 
teignerie, Brantfime's uncle, in a duel (1547) with an unexpected and 
decisive thrust of the sword. 



P. 316: Alesandro de Medici, killed, in 1637, by his cousin Loren- 

P. 314: According to Rabelais, poultre (filly) is the name given to 
a mare that has never been leapt. So Bussy was not speaking with 
strict accuracy in using the term in this case. 

P. 317: Mme. de Chateaubriant. 

P. 318: Perhaps Marguerite de Valois and the ugly Martigues. 

P. 321: The one-eyed Princess d'Kboli and the famous Antonio 

P. 323: Jeanne de Poupincourt. 

P. 324: Anne de Berri, Lady de Certeau, at the court in 1583. 
Helene de Fonseques. 

P. 824: This princess was very ugly. 

P. 330: In the sixteenth century it was customary to whip lazy 
people in bed. See Marot's epigram: Du Jour des Innocens. 


University of California 


405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1388 

Return this material to the library 

from which it was borrowed. 



7 Ml 

Book Slip-35m-7,'63(D8634s4)4280 

UCLA-College Library 


L 005 663 903 2. 








A 001 021 599 4